Ms B, who has lived in privately rented accommodation since 2016 with her 26-year-old son, sought our help with defending the claim for possession that her landlord had made. Although suffering from anxiety, heightened by this claim, she works part-time as a Special Needs assistant and has awards of working tax credit and housing benefit she also is the cares for her son who has a diagnosis of ADHD and is unable to work, they had recently been advised that he may be entitled to Personal Independence Payments. Ms B had been they had been unsuccessful in securing alternative accommodation due to her income being low and despite the house being in a poor condition it is far from certain that the council will house them as they would have to prove that one of them is vulnerable for health reasons.
The landlord had previously evicted them in 2019 due to rent arrears that had arisen due to housing benefit delays, and they had spent time street homeless. The landlord had allowed them to return to their home once the arrears had been paid. We were quickly able to assuage Ms B’s anxiety by establishing that she had a defence to the possession claim as the landlord despite alleging rent arrears on the claim form was relying on a “no fault notice seeking possession” which she denied receiving. Even if the landlord was able to prove that the notice had been served, it was invalid as the requirements of providing gas safety certificates and an energy performance certificate had not been complied with.
We assisted Ms B with preparing a witness statement explaining that she had not received this information which we sent to the landlord’s solicitor and filed at court. Shortly after receipt of the witness statement Ms B was notified that the possession claim had been discontinued enabling her and her son to remain in their home with the knowledge that their landlord cannot rely on the “no fault” possession procedure to evict them providing peace of mind. We continued to assist Ms B with getting the landlord to rectify the disrepair in the house and, if he starts the possession procedure again relying on the alleged rent arrears will assist with defending this and with the making of a counterclaim for an order for repairs to be carried out and for compensation.