Blogging Up The Works

Friday, May 03, 2013

Haiku Month - Day 3

The smallest beaver
can fell the mightiest tree,
size does not mean strength.

Two years ago next week, Linda( my-ex) was in Lakeside Mental Health Unit where I was visiting her. I took a call which turned out to be from her ex landlords agents saying they had just had a council representative in claiming back nigh on 8 grand of rent that the Council had paid in Housing Benefit on her behalf, for which they now didn't think she was entitled.

From that day until today, we have been fighting them explaining with each new figure that they come up with, that they are wrong. The amounts have changed, the reasons the monies are due have changed, their view that Linda was in the wrong has never changed. I'm sure I blogged about this not long ago but in January we went to Court as the Council started the process to evict her, which for someone in temporary accommodation, means being sent to live on the streets. Yes, literally. Luckily in January we had a judge who didn't think it was right to throw someone out who appeared to have a genuine reason why they weren't due to pay the money, and a new date was set for next Friday.

Even though we had instructed solicitors they were more geared up to going into court than trying to get to the bottom of things and so not much happened until last week. Out of the blue she received a letter from someone higher up the food chain in the council saying that they had "just discovered" that they had "mistakenly" applied some money to her rent account which they should have recovered from elsewhere and they were reversing the debt.

For the first time in two years the Council weren't chasing for money. There was still a small defecit which was in dispute but was never something we would get hung up about if the court said she had to pay it. Now there was even a letter which, along with the previous adjustments and explanations, proved that everything the Council had done for the last two years was wrong.

Then it went quiet again. Theoretically, even though there was only a small amount of arrears, the shift in balance in front of the court would be that all the money outstanding was down to Linda not paying something. They would look as though they were the wronged party.

We stuck tight in the belief that we could still make a good fist of it in the court and that if push came to shove we could pay the money there and then and the judge would stop the eviction. A risky tactic but one we were willing to take.

And then yesterday we rang her solicitors to book the pre-court meeting so we could discuss tactics when her solicitor said the Council had just rung her, leaving a message to ring them back. She did. And after two years, on the promise that Linda pays across that small amount owed, they are asking the Court to suspend the eviction.

"Wait!", I hear you say, "only suspended, not withdrawn?". And on the face of it I would agree, but the Council have backed themselves into a corner. They have the condition that they won't go back to Court as long as Linda doesn't get into arrears. However, the suspension works both ways, as if they come back and screw up her account as well, Linda can call it back into Court. Not only that, but this "settlement" does not preclude her from seeking damaged for the two years of stress, illness, and out of pocket expenses that their mistakes have caused.

In reality, it is not completely over yet, but it has reached a point at which a large line can be drawn in the sand, and as long as the Council manage not to cause another problem, her life can move forward once again as she can now start rebidding for Council Housing which their error had suspended.

When dealing with The Council and this sort of error for someone with less willpower than Linda, it would be easier just to pay them the money. That would have been £8000. How many people have paid, particularly the elderly, who tend to think if the Council/Government/any other official body, say it is due, they must be right?

And so, like a beaver, she has eventually overcome those who were much bigger and mightier than she. They say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. She will emerge stronger, but this was very close to going the other way.


  • I remember you writing about this some time back. An awful situation to be in and I'm glad that it has resolved itself. Sort of..
    But yes, damages. Surely Linda should be due some recompense for the trouble and considerable amount stress she has been put through?

    By Blogger Masher, At 6:29 AM  

  • Yes, I remember your previous post. Thank goodness that someone has found some evidence to show that the Council was wrong. Let's hope that Linda can now get on with her life and yes, with damages!

    By Blogger Toffeeapple, At 4:05 PM  

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