Finding a new more habitable home.
About the Client: Miss C.
“Miss C” is an 84-year-old lady, living alone. She has no family living nearby and rents her property from a Landlord. She suffers from anxiety and has been on long-term medication for this, and due to her age and health had become very isolated from the community.
Every Home Matters was contacted by Miss C whose landlord had claimed the break clause. A break clause is a provision in a lease that enables either the landlord or the tenant, or both, to end the lease early. Miss C would have to move into an interim residence for a maximum of five months, during which time she would have to find a new property in which to live.
The lack of family or community support meant that she would have to select and organise the move into the interim property and find a longer-term solution.
As an older lady, Miss C did not have the resources to access and research new properties easily. Upon finding an appropriate residence, leaving your home behind and starting anew will bring added stress and anxiety to someone who is already struggling with mental health issues. Finally, the physical effort of moving home is not something that can be undertaken by someone who is not physically fit enough to do so and the lack of family and community interaction meant that Miss C would be taking on the responsibility by herself.
Miss C had found a property to move to, but it was much smaller and the move would be physically exhausting. Part of her anxiety condition meant that she found it very difficult to part with her possessions, and needed help with letting go from belongings that would no longer fit into her new property, or to find a long term storage solution. Miss C Contacted Age UK to enquire if anyone could assist her with the move and was given the details of Every Home Matters.
Upon appointment, Every Home Matters quickly discovered that the new residence was not fit for habitation, and that Miss C was clearly in a situation where she was being taken advantage of.
How Every Home Matters helped
During the initial consultation, Miss C explained that she had found a 2 bedroom property, and that she had paid a £500 deposit to secure the residence. As the property was smaller, Miss C said that her surplus belongings would have to go into long-term storage.
Every Home Matters advised that the property should be visited so that they could discuss what furniture and belonging could be moved into the new property, and organized a viewing with the Estate Agency.
Every Home Matters accompanied Miss C to the property and met the agent, however, upon arrival the agent said that viewing was not possible, as the “Communal Door Lock had been changed”. A resident happened to be leaving at the time, and allowed access.
Upon entrance to the property, Every Home Matters (EHM) discovered a serious damp issue, which rendered the property uninhabitable. EHM advised Miss C not to proceed until the property was in an acceptable state of repair. However, the work could have taken some time, and the date that the landlord had requested that she leave the property was fast approaching. Another property had to be found.
The agent stated that the £500 deposit was non-refundable, and that Miss C would not get any of this money back. Every Home Matters contacted the area director, and explained the situation, highlighting the vulnerability of the client, and detailing her entitlement to compensation. EHM also explained that this was an excellent case to take to the media to highlight the treatment of vulnerable tenants. At this point full compensation was offered. This would not have happened without the intervention of Every Home Matters.
Every Home Matters then researched more properties, and found a much larger, 3-bedroomed residence that was large enough to accommodate Miss C’s belongings, removing the need for a storage unit. The rental cost of the larger property was the same price of the smaller, uninhabitable property, and was in much better condition.
Every Home Matters continued to work with Miss C, through the move to the new property – organizing the move of furniture and belongings, conducting the notification of change of address to all utilities and services. As Every Home Matters managed the entire move, Miss C could stay with a friend during this time, so that the emotional toll of packing belongings, could be managed. Every Home Matters also unpacked all of the belongings in the new residence, so that the bed was made, and provisions were put always, enabling the transition to be as smooth as possible.
EHM also signposted the client to social services nears her new location, to obtain a blue badge, and receive guidance from an occupational therapist.
Every Home Matters continued to work with Miss C, registering her with a local NHS General Practitioner, as Miss C was paying for private healthcare. The new GP discovered that the private healthcare service has given Miss C a repeat prescription of lorazepam for four years, without any attached consultation. Lorazepam is a highly addictive medication that should only be prescribed for 4 months at the most.
As a result of this, Miss C was referred to the older adults’ mental health team at a nearby hospital and Every Home Matters accompanied Miss C to each of her counselling and assessment sessions. Throughout the process EHM conducted regular telephone calls, weekly home visits, and occasional trips out, to ensure the happiness and wellbeing of Miss C.
Without the intervention of Every Home Matters, Miss C would have been living in a residence that was not fit for habitation due to damp. This would have had a knock on effect to her already fragile health. Every Home Matters represented Miss C, enabling her to find accommodation that was fit for purpose, and claiming compensation. Every Home Matters saved Miss C money, by finding a larger property, meaning that Miss C did not need to pay for extra storage, and also by transferring her to an NHS doctor.
Every Home Matters helped Miss C improve her health and wellbeing, by reducing the stress and anxiety associated with moving property, including establishing home comforts in the new property. By arranging regular calls, and visits, Miss C is no longer isolated and under-represented. By signposting Miss C to the correct health facilities, her anxiety and mental health problems, including the dependency on Lorazepam, can now be dealt with responsibly and Miss C can start to integrate herself into her new community.