Partners daughter, lives in a bedsit as she is awaiting council ccommodation, she is eight months pregnant The bedsit is run by a YMCA used by local council (Welwyn garden city, Herts) under name of GAP scheme Her support worker has, entered the property without permission on several ocassions despite objections, support worker insits she can do this not only this the property had a bed which smelt of damp and she was expected to sleep in it despite obvious health risks. She has written a letter to say that it has been put in storage and will be returned when she leaves. She has been sent a letter by the support worker saying she will evict her if she does not return the bed, despite the beds condition (Support worker says it is fixture and fittings we say otherwise) . There are many issues far too much to mention here. She is on benefits and has slight autism and difficulty reading. What can her correct response be as i see this support worker as a bully and very controlling.
Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
May I ask whether services are supplied to your daughter by the YMCA - e.g. cleaning cooking etc? Is the bedsit self contained? Does a representative of the landlord live in the building?
The accommodation is run by the GAP Scheme YMCA Welwyn Garden City Peartree Lane AL7 3UL, I believe the scheme is run in conjunction with Welwyn, Hatfield council. The bedsit is self contained, she has her own cooking / cleaning facilities. There are no landlords / caretakers that reside on the premises. She pays for her TV, water, rent and Net rent which amounts to £7 per week as she is on income support there are no other benefits as far as I am aware. As per my original email she was given the flat as temporary accommodation and is waiting for more permanent accommodation. When she was given the bedsit it had a bed that was smelt damp / musty and had obviously slept in. The settee in the bedsit was far too low for her to sit in especially as she is eight months pregnant. The items were moved and are in safe storage. The support worker gave my partners daughter paint to freshen up the bedsit only for the support worker to complain that the paint was far too bright yet she provided the paint! She has several times let herself into the bedsit WITHOUT notice, on one occasion she entered the property whilst she was there with her boyfriend who was visiting. The support worker also accused her of keeping her dog in the bedsit, this was in fact in accurate, in fact her boyfriend had brought the dog to the flat to "visit" as he looks after the dog as she is aware that no animals are allowed. The support worker has now threatened eviction as she has not returned the bed and settee but as stated she cannot sleep on a bed that has been used and a settee that is far too low that she cannot get up once sat down as she is heavily pregnant. Part of the tenancy agreement is not to remove fixtures and fittings. As far as we can see this does not include beds, in particular beds that look dirty and smell of damp and have been slept on by other individuals. To be frank a health hazard, especially for someone who is pregnant. To make matters worse the support worker alleges that she has had numerous complaints about her from a neighbour concerning noise relating to a dog. No dog stays in the house during the day or night and to make matters worse the person who has made the allegations has been having serious domestic arguments with her partner who should not be staying overnight in their bedsit (Against the rules) which my partners daughter hears on a regular basis YET the support worker has never raised the issue in writing or verbally until recently. The support workers manner is bullying, rude and aggressive in manner she appears to not care about my partners daughters current state of pregnancy. So much so she is very stressed and has recently had to seek medical advice due to the stress caused by this so called support worker.
The following is a copy of a letter sent to the YMCA management
I write concerning the above address and Ms XXXXX XXXXX, support worker. I have been living at The Paddocks since the 3 February 2014. I currently live there on my own. I am currently 8 months pregnant.
I wish to complain concerning the attitude and rudeness by Ms Young my so called support worker.
When the property was given to me, I was given paint by Ms Young to do some decoration, She gave me the paint which I used, only for Ms Young to come to the property and complain that the paint was too bright (Pink) and yet this is what she provided me with, quite frankly farcical given the circumstances.
Part of the tenancy agreement is not to remove fixture and fittings. As far as I am concerned this does not include beds, in particular beds that look dirty and smell of damp and have been slept on by other individuals. To be frank a health hazard, especially for someone who is pregnant as is my case.
Ms Young on one of her numerous visits, which I hasten to add without any form of appointment or request through me came to my property and asked where the bed was I explained that I had moved it into storage as the bed smelt damp and had been slept on. I explained once I was able to move into more permanent accommodation then I would return the mattress / bed. I am absolutely not prepared to sleep in a bed quite obviously slept in by somebody else along with the possible health hazards associated to this. Would Ms Young or anyone else be prepared to do so themselves? I think not so why think that I should do so?
I also moved the settee that was in the property, this was removed because it was far too low for me to sit in comfortably and not only this due to my being heavily pregnant I could not get up out of the settee, therefore I put it into storage; again to be returned when I leave the property on a permanent basis. I was questioned by Ms Young about this and explained my reasons. Ms Young’s attitude was that if the items were not returned I would be in effect made homeless and the council would not help me. Her whole attitude was very rude and unhelpful not only this quite threatening in manner.
Ms Young has turned up at my bedsit on numerous occasions without making an appointment. Ms Young after being told by me that she cannot just turn up without notice said to me that she can turn up when she likes, despite the tenancy agreement stating the opposite.
I have complained about neighbours arguing and swearing during the night but Ms Young appeared uninterested.
Ms Young even questioned why I had so much property, which included a pushchair and items purchased for me by family for my unborn child. As far as I am concerned this is not any of Ms Young’s business and quite frankly intrusive. I also find her attitude officious.
I do not wish to have Ms Young as my support worker and would like to have a different support worker who can actually “Support” me.
In future any visits to me by a support worker I wish to have an appointment being made with me first. I am not prepared to allow entry to the bedsit unless this is done first.
Based on these fats as she has exclusive possession of the bedsit and is not supplied with any services such as cleaning or cooking, then this will be a shorthold tenancy agreement with a minimum term of 6 months or such longer term as may be provided by the tenancy agreement.
Accordingly the landlord or its representatives may not enter the property against her wishes and should she refuse consent entrance can amount a a criminal offence and can give rise to a claim for damages by your daughter.
then the worker should not walk in to the bedsit at all or even claim she has a right to do so
Furthermore a landlord can be held liable if they have failed to provide a safe and healthy environment for their tenants. She can use or threaten to use the HHSRS which is the housing health and safety rating system implemented by the Housing Act, and ask the environmental department to carry out a health and safety assessment of the property. They have the power to serve improvement notices on the landlord to remedy any areas which do not come up to standard.
An HHSRS inspection can be useful for a couple of reasons. Firstly because such inspections can result in legally binding enforcement notices being served on the landlord if they have failed to comply with their obligations under the Housing act which are substantial and also because the outcome of the inspection can give extremely useful evidence your daughter can present in court if she were to decide to proceed to court at a later stage.
There is a link to the HHSRS requirements below.
In relation to the bed and settee, should this be placed back in the bedsit ? (Although there is not enough room) or kept safely until such a time that it can be placed back or examined ?
Notwithstanding the above rights if she has concerns with her support worker generally, she may wish to make a complaint to the local authorty regarding their conduct. The LA must treat her complaint formally and give her a full written response and make such appropriate investigations as are necessary in order to do so.
If your daughter throws away any of the landlords furniture ( I appreciate she has not done so) she would be liable for the cost of replacement based on its condition at the time. If she moves the furniture out providing it is safely returned at the end of the tenancy there is no breach of contract unless there is a specific condition in the tenancy that provides that no furniture may be removed temporarily from the bedsit. In any event it is not a ground for eviction and she could nto be evicted during any period of the initial tenancy term on this ground.
Is there anything above I can clarify for you any further?
Thats great thank you very much for this ….Is there any formal way of me writing to the council / YMCA just to reinforce what you have said that will get the message home to them ?
Re any issues with the condition of the bedsit, the initial approach can be to request an HHSRS inspection from the environmental services department at the council.
Re the support workers treatment of your daughter, she may consider a letter headed "complaint" to the adult support team social services manager detailing her concerns succinctly and giving some well chosen examples of incidents she considers backs up her claims. She could potentially ask that another support worker is assigned if this is possible or if not that the support worker in question takes account of her concerns and modifies her behaviour.
Is there anything else I can help you with?
No that has been very helpful thank you for your time and patience
A pleasure. If I can assist any further as the situation develops please do no hesitate to let me know.
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I will do. thank you for your time good bye