The Council's Masterclass in Housing Management
Coalition Tip Off
Damian Gozzett and his family have found themselves entangled in a harrowing housing crisis in Brighton and Hove. With two children under the age of 16, Damian’s family is facing the threat of homelessness due to their current landlord requiring them to vacate the property, which has been sold.
As they await the court’s decision on a possession order, Damian and his family have sought help and support from various avenues, including approaching the environmental health team for disrepair issues and seeking advice from Brighton and Hove City Council for alternative accommodation. Despite their efforts, they have hit roadblocks, as they earn slightly above the lowest wage threshold, making them ineligible for substantial assistance.
Damian Gozzett expressed his frustration with the council, feeling dismissed and palmed off due to their income level. Their financial situation has been negatively impacted by disrepair bills and defaults, which have made them unable to meet certain credit requirements. Despite these challenges, they have not received adequate help or support from the council, local charities, or legal services.
In a rather uneventful tip-off to the Brighton and Hove Housing Coalition, Damian shared their year-long struggle to secure stable housing. Their story highlights the challenges many face during the housing crisis, questioning the council’s responsibilities and housing options for local working families.
“Hello, After an entire year of navigating bureaucratic hoops and seeking council assistance, it appeared we had finally secured a property… We were due to move into a 3-bedroom unit by the 25th. However, we have now been informed that the existing tenant has been instructed by the council NOT to move, leaving us unable to proceed with our move.
We have already placed our belongings in storage, cancelled utilities, relocated our internet, and made various arrangements for the new flat, all for nothing (which was supposed to happen in just 2 days). Throughout the year, the council has repeatedly informed us that we do not meet the requirements for emergency housing assistance, despite the looming threat of eviction from our current landlord.
Oddly enough, the council advised us to follow the same steps as the tenant in the property we hoped to move into, causing a ripple effect that disrupted housing prospects for those in line. Ironically, securing this property has now rendered us intentionally homeless (a peculiar loophole, isn’t it?). It’s a true spectacle, witnessing a country being run by complete incompetence!
How many oversized homes are selfishly held by those who do not need them?
I am a working adult with kids, desperately seeking private rented accommodation, but alas, securing anything seems impossible due to issues like this. The whole situation has sickened us; we’ve endured this year-long stress only to have the rug pulled from under us (and at the council’s order, no less!).
So, if anyone has any solutions, please share, because the council’s incompetence has been glaringly evident.”
Astounding Display of Housing Solutions By The Council
A call for change
The family have completed a survey form and provided me with permission to advocate for them, in this survey they rated their Brighton and Hove housing officer’s communication and empathy quite low, indicating a lack of understanding or compassion towards their plight. This lack of support has resulted in heightened stress and feelings of isolation for Damian, as indicated by his self-reported high levels of stress and loneliness.
Furthermore, the family’s mental health has been adversely affected by the uncertainty and strain of their housing journey. Damian expressed that their mental health has worsened due to the ongoing housing crisis they are facing, which they claim is no fault of their own.
One cannot help but empathise with Damian Gozzett and his family, who are caught in a challenging and emotionally taxing situation. The impact of their housing struggles on their mental well-being, especially considering they have children, is deeply concerning.
As an advocate for people experiencing homelessness, I strongly believe that Brighton and Hove City Council has a moral duty to provide compassionate support to families like Damian Gozzett’s during times of housing crisis. Their income level should not be a sole determining factor in assessing their eligibility for assistance. Instead, the council should prioritise the well-being of families With children and consider other factors, such as the presence of disrepair issues and defaults, when determining their eligibility.
I do have sympathy as both households are facing a section 21 no fault eviction and the council which has has over £100m wiped off budgets over the years have to try and pick up the mess.
However, clear and transparent communication is crucial in ensuring that families fully understand the implications of their housing decisions and the available avenues for assistance and appeal. It does feel like an unusual case so we have decided to highlight the pressing need for a solution.
Brighton and Hove City Council must take a proactive approach to provide viable solutions and support for families facing homelessness, especially when children are involved. Collaborative efforts with local charities and advocacy groups could prove instrumental in achieving better outcomes for those in dire need of stable housing.
The case of Damian Gozzett and his family exemplifies the pressing need for housing reforms and a compassionate approach towards housing assistance in Brighton and Hove. As an advocate, I urge the council must acknowledge their shortcomings and take decisive action to rectify the situation. The family’s demands include:
A Sincere Apology: The council must acknowledge the distress and hardship Damian Gozzett and his family have endured due to the council’s lack of support and unclear communication.
Resolving the Issue: The council initiated homeless prevention duties on the tenant in the family’s new home, leading to the family’s current predicament. A fair solution would be to assist the current tenant within the financial guidelines, allowing Damian Gozzett’s family to move into their new home without further delay.
Assisting Families in Need: Damian Gozzett and his family approached the council seeking help, only to be met with rejection based on their income level. The council must review the income threshold and implement measures to ensure that families facing genuine hardships receive the necessary support to avoid homelessness.
Affordable Housing Initiatives: To address the pressing issue of housing scarcity, the council must outline a concrete plan to build an additional 800 council homes and allocate more homes for local working families. These initiatives will provide much-needed relief and stability to families like Damian Gozzett’s, who are struggling to find secure and affordable housing.
Their story reflects broader issues within the city’s housing system, further exacerbating the already pressing housing crisis. The current approach of the local council has pushed many tenants and landlords alike into dire and distressing situations. Among the key issues that remain unresolved are:
Inadequate Housing Support: The exclusion of working professionals from housing support solely based on their earnings leaves many hardworking individuals and families without access to the assistance they need to secure safe and stable housing.
Neglected Property Repairs: The council’s failure to ensure that landlords promptly address property repairs and maintenance issues has resulted in substandard living conditions for many tenants, leading to unjust evictions and homelessness.
Lack of Timely Support: Tenants facing the risk of homelessness are met with insufficient and delayed assistance from the council. Advising tenants to “stay put” until possession orders are issued by the court prolongs their suffering and leaves them in a state of uncertainty and vulnerability.
Lack of Mediation Services: The absence of effective mediation services between landlords and tenants contributes to legal battles and eviction proceedings, further deepening the housing crisis.
Insufficient Tenant’s Rights Education: Many tenants are unaware of their rights and the available resources to help them navigate difficult housing situations, leading to vulnerability and power imbalances.
Inadequate Housing Supply and Funding: The shortage of affordable housing options and insufficient funding for housing assistance exacerbates the housing crisis, leaving many without access to stable housing.
Damian Gozzett’s family demands that the council takes immediate action to address these issues and implement solutions that include:
Timely Support: Providing immediate and appropriate support to tenants facing the risk of homelessness, irrespective of their income level.
Repairs Enforcement: Ensuring that landlords promptly adhere to property repair regulations to protect tenants’ well-being and prevent unjust evictions.
Mediation Services: Implementing mediation services to facilitate fair negotiations between landlords and tenants, aiming to avoid evictions and provide reasonable solutions.
Tenant’s Rights Education: Actively educating tenants about their rights and available resources to help them navigate challenging housing situations.
Increased Housing Supply and Funding: Allocating resources to build more affordable housing options and providing financial support to those in need, ensuring access to safe and secure housing.
Flexible Income Requirements: Adopting flexible income criteria that consider various factors, such as medical circumstances, credit history, and financial hardships, to determine housing support eligibility.
Holistic Assessment: Conducting a holistic assessment to determine housing support eligibility, considering an individual’s overall financial situation, including medical expenses and existing debts.
Average Wage Consideration: Recognising the challenges faced by those earning average wages in high-cost cities and adjusting housing support criteria accordingly.
Addressing Property Allocation: Identifying cases where tenants occupy properties larger than their needs and working with them to find alternative, more appropriately sized accommodations.
Supporting Transition: Providing support to tenants during the transition, including assistance with the moving process and access to housing advice.
Property Maintenance: Establishing guidelines and incentives to encourage tenants to maintain and care for their properties properly.
Regular Inspections: Conducting regular property inspections to ensure that living conditions are maintained and improved, benefiting both tenants and the efficiency of the housing system.
By signing this petition you will be supporting the above calls for change.