Hemel woman criticises council for evicting her and her children

A woman has criticised Dacorum Borough Council after she received an eviction notice that will leave her and her three children homeless next month

Laura Vernon, of Bennett's Gate, has been living in the temporary accommodation since May last year, she has now received an eviction notice from the council.

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She said: "I have to be out by the March 2, they said I made myself intentionally homeless. In January, last year my children, who were living with my sister, came back to live with me.

"I was living with my daughter, who has a complex heart condition, in a two-bedroom house. I spoke to my landlord and with my sons coming back it would not be possible to continue living in the house - because of my daughter's condition, she would not be able to share a room with two other children.

"They are evicting me because they say I have made myself intentionally homeless and I am in rent arrears.

"I have been living here since last May and now they are evicting me and my children, I have less than a month until I will have nowhere to live.

"It's not fair that they are doing this to me, what am I supposed to do?"

Dacorum Borough Council was unable discuss an individual case.

A spokesman said: "We are unable to discuss individuals and their personal circumstance.

"However, when an applicant approaches the council as homeless, a full assessment into the applicant’s circumstances must be undertaken in line with homelessness legislation (Housing Act 1996, Part 7 as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002 and the Homeless Reduction Act 2017), which is set by Central Government.

"Within the assessment process, there are a number of tests that every applicant has to pass in order for the local authority to determine if there is a legal duty to provide accommodation.

"This includes the test of Intentionality, which is defined in homelessness law as whether or not the applicant has deliberately done, or failed to do, something that caused them to lose accommodation that was available and reasonable for them to continue to occupy.

"The same test is applied to every applicant that goes through the homelessness process.

"In the event that the applicant is issued with a negative decision due to this, in the decision letter they are advised that they have the right to seek independent advice and request an review of the decision where the case is reviewed by a senior independent officer that was not involved in the original decision.

"The council’s primary role is to prevent homelessness in line with our Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy and in line with the Homeless Reduction Act 2017, we are required to develop a Personalised Housing Plan for each applicant, which outlines steps to be taken by both the council officer and applicant to prevent or resolve homelessness.

"Irrespective of decisions issued to an applicant, we work closely with all of our clients to provide support, advice and help (including referrals to other agencies) with a view to resolving housing difficulty.

"Where an applicant has received a decision that they are considered to be intentionally homeless, they will be referred to Hertfordshire County Council, in line with the Hertfordshire Joint Protocol which exists to ensure that consistent advice and assistance is provided to Intentionally Homeless Families, 16/17 year olds and Care Leavers."