Mohammed Warsame knows all about forced eviction, 10 years ago he was fleeing for his life from warring factions in Somalia. He eventually ended up in the UK and in Northampton, and in September 2003 after serving his time on the waiting list he moved into a one bedroom council flat in Spring Boroughs with his wife and young child.
Mohammed is a proud man and has never claimed benefits, he quickly got himself a job on Brackmills and has always strived to pay his way. His family had at last found peace and security and soon after a second child was added to the family. Life was beginning to take on an air of normality after all the trauma in their homeland and their flight from fear.
But living with 4 people under one small roof in a small one bedroom flat was not easy and the Council were not in a position to offer him anything bigger. So Mohammed, as is his way sorted out the problem himself. His mother in law, lived in a larger flat in Chelsea, and those who understand Somalian culture will know that it is very normal for young mothers to reside with their own mother whilst the husband was working. in Somalia many of the men work hundreds of miles away from their family to earn money to support the family so Mrs Warsame and the two children moved in with Mum even though they wanted to be at home in Northampton with Mohammed.
Mohammed carried on working 5 days a week at Brackmills and then at the weekends he would visit his wife and children at the mother in laws in Chelsea. His mother in law was not working, and it soon become apparent that Mohhamed would need to support both households, so he worked harder, did extra shifts and tried to pay his way the best he could, but he fell behind with the rent, not hugely, but enough to worry him. At one point he was £800 in arrears with NBC, but by working a bit more overtime he reduced that down to £400. All this it seems was to be to no avail!
You seen those kind souls at Lib Dem controlled Northampton Borough Council, decided to serve him a repossession order and took the case to court to evict Mr Warsame on the grounds of unpaid rent. Now those who understand how the Council works will be amazed that they took such an austere measure over such a small sum, residents usually can run up arrears into the thousands before the council would even consider taking the case to court for eviction. So why was Mohammed being treated so badly?
Thankfully the Judge agreed, and noted that Mr Warsame had been reducing his arrears not allowing them to grow and refused the Council the right to repossess the property. But the court costs still added another £120 to Mr Warsame's arrears, hardly helpful to him giving his current position. but at least he could keep his flat? Or could he?
Before Mohammed had even left the court another kind soul from the Borough Councils Housing Department caught up with him and handed him another pre prepared eviction order! This time under the auspice of the flat in Spring Boroughs not being his main abode! So they once more told him he had to go and duly evicted him in May. He couldn't understand what he had done wrong? And didn't know who to turn to.
Ever since he has been sleeping on friends sofas in Northampton during the week to ensure he keeps his job and then commuting at weekends back down to Chelsea, where he recently received a bill for over £1100 from NBC who had added another months rent (notice of intention to quit) to his bill despite them evicting him.
Mohammed came to me to ask we what he had done wrong? And why the Council were victimising him? the only response I have got so far from my enqiuries to the Council is that they had discovered that Mr Warsame's name had appeared as being resident on a housing benefit claim in Chelsea, he was of course, and the claim probably in the name of his mother in law was simply being truthful as to who resided there albeit only at weekends.
But what business is it of Northampton Borough Council what his mother in law does in Chelsea? and how did they source this information with the Data Protection Act in place?
And why oh why did no one at NBC think to invite him in to talk about his housing needs? after all if the Council had done it's job properly Mrs Warsame and the 2 children would still be in Northampton with their husband/father living in a slightly bigger property. So much it seems for secured tenancies!
I have of course asked the council a number of questions on Mr Warsame's case including:
Why an eviction order was served and a court case fixed on such a low arrears amount when it was clear the tenant was reducing the arrears?
How come a housing officer was in the court with a second eviction notice for a different reason on the day of the hearing?
What are they doing involving themselves in the affairs of another local authority area?
Why was Mr Warsame not offered any help at any time since 2003 instead of being treated so badly and evicted by any means possible?
Mr Warsame now tells me he has had more arrears bills sent to him in London regarding his Council Tax far beyond the point that he was forcefully removed from his tenancy.
So once again take a bow Northampton Borough Council and their Liberal Democrat administration, you must all be very proud of yourselves.
Perhaps this one should go directly to Northamptonshire Race Equality Council for them to investigate?
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