Published: 13:00, 03 August 2017 |
Updated: 13:45, 03 August 2017
A TV bailiff who has been called to evict hundreds of tenants is offering his support to one woman facing homelessness.
Paul Bohill has appeared on the television programme Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Anyway! on Channel 5, being called to claim property and cash on behalf of companies and landlords.
But this week he attended the home of Marie Lancaster in Park Farm, Ashford, and rather than escorting her from the home, he instead offered her his support.
Mrs Lancaster, 44, was served with an eviction notice by her landlords and is awaiting a court date for the home where she has lived for eight years. She says she is not in rent arrears but believes the landlords want the property back.
But the mum of two teenage children fears her family could be left homeless as she has not been able to get help from Ashford Borough Council housing officers. She receives housing benefits and income support and is a full-time carer for her sister.
Yet she says has been advised by others not to fill in a homeless application form until bailiffs are at her door, and is now worried she has left it too late.
She said: “I haven’t filled in a homeless application form until six days before the end of the Section 21 notice [the first step in the eviction process] from the landlord. I don’t know if I’ve made myself potentially homeless.
“The council have not been great. You get told one thing, then you get told something else.
“I don’t know what the right answer is. I don’t know where we are, and when you have got kids involved it’s not right.”
She has been supported by Mr Bohill, who is more accustomed to knocking on doors to evict tenants or collect cash sums, most famously from ex-Liverpool and West Ham footballer Neil Ruddock.
Mr Bohill lives in Ashford, and was made aware of Mrs Lancaster's case via a friend contacting him on Facebook.
He said: “I’ve dealt with hundreds of evictions and about a dozen stand out. This cannot be a more genuine problem. Mrs Lancaster has never been in arrears, she has done nothing wrong, and is trying to do the right thing.
“Some tenants I have seen have gone through hell and back before they are rehoused by councils. The common denominator in all of them is the councils’ unhelpful attitudes.
“This is a case of genuine hardship. She has hit the nationwide problem that landlords and their agents are reluctant to take on people receiving benefits.”
In a statement, Ashford council said: “We are in touch with Mrs Lancaster and three of our housing officers have spoken to her to try and resolve her situation and subsequently offer her support.
“We recognise that it’s a traumatic time for anyone who is placed in such a position and obviously handle all cases with sensitivity.”
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