Published on 9 Jan 2014

Bad advice in a bad situation: the young mum evicted despite paying her rent

Gemma Jupe is what Fergus and Judith Wilson refer to as a “casualty” – a byproduct of their unilateral decision to evict any of their tenants who are receiving benefits.

Gemma’s story is particularly heart-rending. She broke up with her partner at the end of last March when she was just six weeks pregnant.

She moved in with her mum temporarily and a month or so later secured a place of her own, renting from Fergus Wilson.

It was only a small two bedroom house in Ashford in Kent,but Gemma really wanted to have a place of her own, somewhere to call home for her and her thee-year-old daughter, Connie. Daughter number two, Casey, arrived in November.

Nine days later one of her radiators broke down and she emailed the agent to have it fixed.

Gemma says that less than half an hour later she received a phone call from Mr Wilson telling her she’d have to arrange to get it fixed herself and then the bombshell – he wanted her out.

She appealed to him, saying she was on benefits, yes, but had never paid her rent late and had a newborn baby now too that needed looking after. But Mr Wilson wasn’t budging.

Read more on generation rent: why is it so easy to evict?

As a “favour” he said she could stay till after Christmas but then she had to go. Soon after Gemma received an official Section 21 eviction order from the letting agent.

Panicked, Gemma turned to the local council for help but short of putting her on the waiting list for a property they’ve told her there’s nothing they can do.

In fact, they’ve advised her to sit pretty and wait for Mr Wilson to take it the next step and issue her with legal proceedings, which will force her out of the property.

Gemma is only 25, with a nine-week-old baby. She’s angry and confused and doesn’t know where to turn. She knows she’ll have to go back to her mum’s place, at least for now, just to have a roof over her head. But her mum’s house is only a small three bedroom, she says, and her younger pregnant sister lives there too.

Tenants rights?

Mr Wilson says he feels bad about her situation, but as a private landlord, he says he has no duty of care to her.

Harsh as that is, legally, he’s right. Yet ironically the people with a duty of care, the council, actually appear to be giving Gemma bad advice.

Because if she waits for Mr Wilson to serve her with a legal notice of possession – to force her out – that will stay on her record in perpetuity and make it very tough for her to get another privately- rented place in the future.

So in the meantime, what does Gemma do?

Mr Wilson’s not going to change his mind and take pity on her.

He’s made a decision – a very unpopular decision – to stop leasing to tenants on benefits because more and more of them are falling into arrears.

Yet the council is telling Gemma to stay put and wait to be issued with a bit of paper that could make it virtually impossible for her to rent from a private landlord again.

Hers is an isolated story and Mr Wilson is a particularly recalcitrant landlord.

But as more and more landlords up and down the country adopt his stance – as seems to be the case – stories like Gemma’s won’t be the anomaly, but increasingly the norm.

UPDATE:

Ashford Borough Council has been in touch to say that it has today tried to contact Miss Jupe to talk through more fully the options available to her. It emphasised that anyone threatened with homelessness should come to talk to the council as early as possible as it has “several options that may enable us to sustain the tenancy in some cases, or to find suitable accommodation for the individuals or families concerned without them having to go through the ordeal of being in temporary accommodation, which is also the least effective option for the tax payer”.

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48 reader comments

  1. Heidi says:

    Why does she not have sufficient money and require state benefit, but has enough to purchase fake nails and have a 4th child? Why am I working 40+ hours per week and paying for her to rent her own place? She has now moved back to her mother’s residence….welcome to the real world.

    1. Dawn says:

      Heidi, whilst it is true that a small percentage of you income tax does go to support people on benefits, a larger amount goes to the government to spend on massive tax subsidies for large corporations. Many of these corporations do not pay any income tax at all. The reason they get away with it is because they provide low paid jobs to the work sector. People working for these firms pay their income tax, but because their wage is low, many have to claim the tax credits benefit in order to make ends meet.
      Also, don’t forget to take into account the large wage and massive expenses that politicians can claim. This all comes out of your tax too!
      The government would like people to believe that the bad state of the country is all the fault of scroungers on benefits. The truth is that the biggest crooks and scroungers are in government.

      1. Rosemary says:

        I totally agree with you Dawn – the government has used spin and rhetoric to brain wash the public into believing that all people on benefits are scroungers and malingerers. I would hope that Heidi and others with the same opinion would take the time to seek out and find the truth concerning people on benefits. The majority of these people are only on benefits for short time because of loss of job or other situations. People are losing their jobs due to govt. policies – the above situation is being used by the Govt. as a smokescreen/scapegoat to cover up the disgusting policies of this govt. which are totally based on ideology to change the balance of society. You notice that no MP’s have offered to take a pay cut, nor have they stopped claiming their expenses, some inappropriate, to show ‘we are all in it together’ – even to the point of debating whether to give themselves a pay rise, when most people either have not had a pay rise for years, or have had to take a pay cut to retain their jobs. All due to Govt. policies. Roll on the election next year ….

    2. Andrew Dundas says:

      Hello Heidi,
      You and I are paying housing benefit to Ms Jupe because our economic system has failed.

      Economic theory predicts that open market housing costs cannot rise above rents/prices that are affordable; that competition would push rents/prices down to a level at which the all market participants’ needs would be satisfied.
      But that doesn’t happen because there aren’t any proper market supplies of housing. So you and I end up subsidising landlords and property owners by paying out housing benefit.

      None of the immediate solutions to this chronic market failure would NOT cost you and I money. The unfortunate Ms Jupe – who deserves our compassion – is the victim of the property laws our Nation has accepted.

    3. Tim Layton says:

      Where do you get 4 children from?

    4. Gemma says:

      By the way it was my birthday before Xmas so got my nails done. I have 2 children not 4 and I do work so read properly before u comment

      1. Kim Norcross says:

        Gemma, i would advise you to talk to Shelter for help i know that your family will be there to help but Shelter are really good and do give good advice and can often help where others cant, i wish you and your children the best of luck and think that those who have made poor comments will think about their actions, what is happening to you could happen to anyone, i split with my husband in October and know that alone is a hard thing to cope with.

      2. dave says:

        gemma ignore that stupid woman who cant read proper, this government has told so many lies about people on welfare that idiots like her believe everything their told, i`m thinking of you ,, talk to these people https://www.facebook.com/YourBenefitsAreChanging they can help you, all these changes are evil, And to that woman 1billion is spent on benefits, 25 billion on tory pockets thro tax

    5. maxine says:

      Maybe you should you read and get your facts right, she has got 2 children not 4 and she does work and pays nearly all her rent herself, so maybe you should think before you write a load of crap

    6. Jean says:

      Read the story before you reply

    7. m0nty says:

      @heidi Why don’t you read the article? Then you would actually know that what you said was complete crap.

      She has just had her 2nd daughter, not her 4th daughter. fake nails? I think you’re delirious. Either that or just.. no i think idiot sums it up.

    8. Louise says:

      If you listen, this young lady is working, she gets a top up because the minimum wage paid is not sufficient to live on and keep a house over your head. Also, she does not have 4 children, she has 2. As for the Nails, may be her mum treated her for a birthday, we dont know the situation, but she is being responsible going out to work even though she COULD stay put if she wanted.
      I work and pay taxes ALOT of taxes, I do not begrudge people like her for making the effort. I also begrudge our so called elected parliament blowing £90 on a kettle, 1000’s in expenses when I have to travel back and forth to london from the North West weekly to work as there is NON here. Pay extortionate prices for renting a room.
      Don’t blame people like this young lady, you have to blame the people in charge. They are ripping us all off.

    9. Ren says:

      You should welcome yourself to the real world and open your eyes.

    10. Ian Roberts says:

      Heidi, I think it’s YOU that needs to come into the real world. Firstly you clearly have a problem with understanding what is in front of you, and secondly, you also are in your own little bubble and have no concept of ‘the real world’ outside of it. Just because your life seems to be ok, it doesn’t mean everyone has been dealt the same cards. Clearly you have never struggled because of a situation beyond your control and have had a pretty easy time of it. Get real…people don’t want to be in situations like this and opportunities to get out of them seem more difficult these days. This is the attitude of so many people of this country and it makes me sick. Do you actually KNOW what is paid out in housing benefit by the Government each year as a %age of total spending Heidi? Go take a look. As you will see, it doesn’t affect your monthly tax bill as much as you thought does it? Do you know how much money the Government writes off each year to Corporations, pays out in expenses or even how much of a Tax break the more financially secure get? Why are you picking on people like Gemma??? Pick on the REAL scroungers and thieves of this country – the people who already HAVE money. I feel for you Gemma and I hope help comes along soon for you.

    11. Zoe says:

      Really?! (do you have a chip on you shoulder or – brain washed by media spin on benefits claimants) did you read the article? the woman is paying her rent on time, she is prioritising correctly, she has broken up from the father of her children and is currently at home with a new born baby, would you have rather she had a late stage termination in order to be able to hopefully find a job to support the one child she already has? I take it that if someones on benefits you wish to see them in tatty clothes and looking unkept and rough – either read the article correctly instead of just looking at the picture and title or have someone explain it too you if your having problems before you comment.

    12. Maggie says:

      Fake nails?
      You can get fake nails in the ‘£1 shop!.
      Who are we to judge.
      The real problem is our government allows landlords to charge what they like re renting, a lot of those scum MPs have properties they rent out therefore they work for ‘their’ best interests not ours.
      Lack of housing is also a big problem, even though there are 70.000 unoccupied houses in the UK.
      This young mother was treated abominately, the problem is ‘not’ the people of this country (the ruled over), the problem is the criminal racist rulers.

  2. Elizabeth Barnett says:

    Why do no the action of the Wilsons count as “collective punishment”?

  3. Sarah says:

    I bet Mr Wilson is loving sitting in his nice big, warm house whilst Gemma is going to be out on the street with her two young children. Why is it that genuine people who do not by choice want to be on benefits, always get tarred with same brush as those who mis-use the system. Sometimes people do not have any choice but to claim benefits due to circumstances beyond their control, such as ill health, redundancies, family circumstances like bereavements etc. This is not the only case; I know of someone living in a YMCA house who because they ‘need the house back’ has been given notice. He is a brilliant tenant, on no other benefits and through circumstances beyond his control had to approach the YMCA for help. He does not have ANYWHERE to go, and it is not until he is actually physically on the streets that the council MAY do something to help. I doubt it. Yet there are people coming to the UK now who are entitled automatically to receive benefits. If the Government can’t look after their own citizens, then there is something seriously wrong with this country.

  4. Del says:

    We have the anti-discrimination act out there preventing someone being evicted on the basis of Race, Gender or Disability, but now we can be discriminated against for claiming benefits.

    I think Cameron & co need to stop gibbering about IPNA and put an extension on discrimination.

  5. Joy says:

    I am absoloutly horified by the landlord, Mr Wilson, who has bees featured on the news recently for evicting all his tenants on housing benefits. I have just seen him & his wife commenting on Channel 4 news, saying that everyone on benefits should get off their backsides and get a job, basically to prive that they can pay their rent.
    If only it were that simple. I’m the mother of a 28 yaer old daughter who has a complex and progressive neurological illness. Until last year she worked in an incredibly physically & emotionally demanding job, & struggled for a long time until her consultants advised her to stop for the sake of her health. Yes, she ‘walks the streets’ every day, forcing herself to walk 3-4 miles a day to keep herself mobile & keep deep depression at bay Sometimes she walks with a stick, sometimes crutches, sometimes with a 4-wheeled ‘old persons’ walker – when she’s able to walk without these she’s often accused of being drunk.

    She is on benefits, but does voluntary work when she’s well enough & plays an acitve part in support groups for people with similar conditions.

    She is now terrified that the home she’s rented privately for the past 2 years, which is ideal for her limited mobility needs & has room to accomodate her equipment and carers, is in jeopardy. The local council do not have any suitable accomodation. I do not have the room to house her but do what I can to support her hard-fought independence.

    She has no debts, has an exemplary credit history but will NEVER be able to own her own property, let alone be a landlord.

    Put yourself in HER position Mr & Mrs Wilson, and tell me how your financial concerns match up to her absoloute terror at the thought of being in a B&B, or worse, on the streets.

  6. Evette Garside says:

    Tell the landlord she has a job. Get a friend to say they are an employer in case he wants check

    1. liz says:

      Well isn’t that a clever option. Tell them she has a job…. and become homeless anyway. because she doesn’t have a job this meaning she loses all Housing benefits and everything else which means. she can’t pay rent making her behind and lose house that way.

    2. anon says:

      Yes, fraud is definitely a good way to get yourself accommodation… at her majesty’s pleasure.

  7. mick readdin says:

    This landlord is a disgusting excuse for a human being. However, the government has to take some responsibility for this poor woman’s situation, it’s one of their policies that have helped to create it.

  8. Rob says:

    I was made homeless last month when my council stopped in the north east
    stopped my housing benefit. They ignored my new application for housing benefit. I applied to court to try and prevent the eviction, but had my benefits stopped at the same time. I had no income to pay rent and couldn’t get a lawyer to help me defend my home because of the cuts to legal aid, that lawyers demonstrated against this week.
    The Council claim, even though i had no income at the time i was trying to prevent the eviction, they might consider me as making myself intentionally homeless, because i couldn’t afford to pay full rent. Having been able to get some information on housing law in the last few weeks, i have learned that the council lied to me about a lot of things prior to my eviction. They also tried to bully me about rent arrears. The council seem to have given up on trying to help people. They told me they’re jobs are under threat because of council cuts, and seem more worried about that, than helping people.
    They denied the money they received from the government’s crisis fund exists, and would not help me into a private tenancy. I think the council are using the money the government allocated them, for the crisis fund, to make up the shortfall in other council departments, and use the money to fund other council departments, instead of using it to help people in a crisis situation.
    I am in a crisis situation because of the council’s decisions. There was no need for the council to evict me, i was a good tenant and trying to start my own business when they made me homeless.
    The stress of being made homeless has affected my health.
    The Council are now telling me, that if they decide i made myself intentionally homeless, because i didn’t have enough income to pay full rent,
    that they will have no legal duty to rehouse me.
    I feel as if i am living in a nightmare, and i imagine anyone who becomes homeless feels the same. I had the worst christmas of my entire life and there is no sign of anything getting better in the immediate future. If anything things are getting harder, because if the council refuse to rehouse me, i will be left with trying to get a private tenancy, and no resources to do it.
    I have had to set up my own crowdfunding page, to try and raise the money for a deposit and a bond, because the council say they might not help me with that either. The housing crisis and the cost of living crisis the government have created through the lack of social housing being built, the housing benefit cap, the bedroom tax, and welfare cuts, is causing suffering for thousands and thousands of people. This cannot go on.

    1. Steve says:

      This is clearly a political comment.
      “Cost of living crisis” – Political line
      “This cannot go on” – Political line

      Also the knowledge of the funds the Councils receive, along with all of the different policies referred to make this clearly a political point rather than a person expressing their experience. It’s a bit disingenous.

    2. Liz says:

      I feel for you, i really do – having been homeless twice… (well 4 times if you include house disasters such as a chimney cave in and a burst pipe)
      and the threat of being evicted at the moment luckily for me I came to an arrangement, but I know many people that can’t, its not just people with benefits that are getting effected – I’m a full time mum, go to college and work, and pulling things together including rent is shall we say a Ball ache. the Government have this thing where they are saying people on benefits are the “scum” of the earth as it stands and aren’t worth anything. they mess around with peoples lives and have no idea what it means to actually live in our lives. without actually being in our shoes. for a few years I was Jobless and it wasn’t from lack of trying. just there was nowhere and to be honest I was lucky to get this one, even then it doesn’t cover things needed. just the bare minimal.

      My point in all this? look at what is happening and be thankful you’re alive and you are who you are. because as much as they are making out and turning everybody against one another they are doing a wonderful job at showing us that they are idiots, morons and have no conception of human life what so ever. and they must be very proud of this – its most likely due to them all being inbred – I hear it dumb’s you down ;)

      But seriously – I know I don’t know your situation the ins and out. but I do hope, that you are Ok and you never lose yourself no matter what they throw at you. don’t let them win stay hopeful and strong and more importantly STAND TOGETHER

  9. Philip says:

    I hope one day (ideally soon) Mr Wilson is compelled to make life changing decisions over which he’ll have no control. Perhaps the experience might turn him into a decent human being with a shred of compassion.

  10. Elizabeth Forbes says:

    I don’t get this: I thought courts were inclined to favour tenants esp in cases like this and anyway that proceedings often took well over a year. So yes, don’t panic and sit tight, certainly don’t leap before you’re pushed.

  11. Ian burrows says:

    Bet channel 4 are made up .. Another scrounging parasite out on the street … Hope your disgusting channel and Cameron are happy now your hypocrisy makes me sick

    1. Denise Jupe says:

      I would just like to say my daughter is NOT as you said a scrounging parasite she is on maternity leave and HAS A JOB she has a bit of help with her rent which SHE PAYS MOST OF IT HERSELF she has always worked since she left school as she the same as my other daughters who are also working have all been brought up that if you can work than you work obviously there are people who cannot due to reasons out of their control so i hope th

    2. maxine says:

      Who do you think you are calling her a scrounging parasite, if you had read properly you would have seen that she is a working mum who is currently on maternity leave but will be going back to work. It’s people like you who make me sick and shouldn’t judge after reading a few lines of the story.

  12. Paul Deards says:

    The irony of course is that, with 50% of his rental income coming from housing benefit, he’s by far a bigger benefits recipient than any of the people he’s throwing out.

  13. Angela says:

    I am a landlord, renting out one property which used to be my home. When I took out insurance the Insurance policy stipulated that the tenant must be employed. I was quite shocked by this. although it was irrelevant as my tenant did have a job. I cannot say why insurance companies are allowed to make this discrimination – but don’t blame the landlord when the discrimination is being forced on them.

  14. maxine wilson says:

    This landlord is an selfish idiot as long as the tenants pay there rent on time and dont get in arrears and dont wreck the properly i dont see what the problem is letting this lady with children stay where she is and for the record even having a job doent mean ur safe at any time u could be sacked as this country jobs are not secure anymore and with this new tory goverment everybodys bloody getting laid off.

    1. Angela says:

      Maxine did you not see what I just posted? It would void the insurance. (And would equally if the tenant lied about being employed and was found out.)

    2. Angela says:

      Sorry Maxine. Just seen that Gemma is working. No problem with the insurance. I still think it wrong that unemployed people should be rejected by insurance companies. Its very catch 22. Can’t get a place to live because you have no job. Can’t get a job because you have nowhere to live.

  15. Janet Hartley says:

    I have every sympathy for this young lady. But she is then end product of all those benefit claimants who do not pay their rent. Claimants were a few years back given the responsibility of paying the rent instead of the authorities paying landlords direct unfortunately an heck of a lot stopped paying. This is the reason that once again you are seeing on adverts – benefit claimants need not apply. Horrible I know but it is a problem caused by the last government.

  16. Jon Randle says:

    I am really shocked by the views of these two so called landlords and heartless nature to kick people out of their homes.
    Not sure how true this is on wikipedia but maybe you might want to double check these ‘facts’ on a page about them http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fergus_and_Judith_Wilson

  17. Cathrine Hopkins says:

    Our previous landlord did not even fix any repairs in our rented house for over 6-7 months until we were forced to leave because the property was nearly uninhabitable and dangerous to our health.

    The neighbours set fire to our house, by accident, and it lay fire damaged so badly we couldn’t use the back of our house at all for 6 months as the burnt out awning was structurally unsound.

    There was also a huge spreading leak which constantly dripped dirty brown/red water over our kitchen work surfaces and hole in the roof which meant every time it rained, water would pour into the kitchen and from the ceiling above the stairs, all of which led to large amounts of mould and rising damp issues, it was unhygienic and just disgusting. The stench of damp was so bad we couldn’t invite anyone into our house.

    We were paying £750 per month plus for the property which in the end we had to move due to landlord inaction and even then the estate agents walloped US with even more fees which they put as “admin” fees.

    All in all cost of a new deposit, £300 to hold a property until references are done, upfront 1 and half months rent, admin fees for both sides cost us over £3,000…. A nice amount to add to our ever growing debt problems caused by extortionate rent, greedy landlords and unregulated estate agents.

  18. nicole says:

    You can usually explain to agents that the mark against you renting privately is because you were advised to sit & wait for a court issued eviction notice, most are understanding especially if you have young children

  19. Michael says:

    To be honest, the landlord has a business to run, business decisions should be based solely upon risk, not emotion.

    He should have the same rights that insurance companies have, when they use information about a person to decide if and how much they will charge to insure them.

    Grouping people together by certain attributes (age, experience, benefit claimant, students, etc) and calculating risk based on that group makes perfect sense, to me at least.

  20. neil kean says:

    I’m a single, working guy in a private rent but receiving benefits towards my rent because of health issues and low income. I’ve lived in temporary homeless accommodation and I’m very aware of the fine line between being in a home or being on the streets but I actually feel sorry for the Wilsons. They have worked hard to build up a property portfolio, properties they have chosen to let out, their perogative, a lot of their income comes from people on benefits but that is how the system works not something they have devised to suit themselves they work with the parameters of the law.

    They have the choice between having clients who pay on time or those who default and fall into arrears, hand on heart what would you do if it was your choice? Yes there are moral issues but they are business people running a business. You start making decisions based on hard luck stories and where do you draw the line? Suddenly you have only a third of your income because of those who can’t pay this month! They default on you and it’s only a short time before you’re defaulting on the banks. The banks reposess, the tenants receive eviction notices, you’ve lost the business you have worked so hard to build. All because you allowed emotion into your business.

    The situation isn’t right but the problem lies with the system, the fact that councils sold off huge swathes of housing stock for less than the market value forcing people to use private landlords. Build affordable association housing and you take away the need for private rentals.

    If only it were that simple but don’t vilify people for doing what we would all do if the shoe were on our foot.

    1. adrian says:

      Very good point well put Neil, I would also add my wife works in lettings and the actual nightmare of getting people out of houses is far from easy, the council give the above very poor advice to people, which as pointed out gets them a bad rental reputation.
      Part of the problem I have seen was a few years ago when the government stopped paying money direct to landlords and instead started paying the tenant who then pays the landlord what an absolute joke of a decision that is, whilst money goes to the tenant who then pays the landlord it will always be easy for people to fall into arrears and cause hassle for honest people who could be pushed to the limit and as neil has stated lose a business down to 1 bad egg.
      I can see both sides of the argument but councils are the ones at fault for bad advice which they are being forced to give due to a lack of council housing etc.
      Its about time these council advisors end up in court in much the same way as PPI and other rubbish advice companies have ended up being forced to pay back due to poor advice.
      Get a few people who have now got bad rental chances due to these councils poor advice to take them to court for compensation !! then we may get an end to this poor advice !!!

  21. Lynn says:

    Private landlords are nothing more than parasites taking entry level properties away from the first time buyer…My neighbour moved and let out his home and will not even replace a £20 fence panel..Disgusting that those on benefits who have contributed via NI are being banded as scroungers yet the private landlord can rinse the council coffers!

  22. Sarah says:

    What I can’t understand is that the Wilsons are evicting the tennants that are on benefits and would prefer to have “Eastern Europeans” in his his houses which…..correct me if I’m wrong but most of them are on “our” benefits. Just don’t understand what our country has come too.

  23. Kev Spink says:

    I really hope Gemma gets sorted soon. In my opinion the main reason these private landlords are because councils are now paying rent money direct to the claimant to pay themselves,who some of them go fritter it away on all sorts.
    If the councils returned to paying landlords direct the private landlords wouldn’t have to take this stance.
    I do hope Gemma gets something sorted for her & her kids. It’s not her fault & if I was her landlord I would make sure those that pay can definitely stay.

  24. lorna barnett says:

    Previously I lived in private rented accommodation the home got sold from under our feet. Council advice stay put. I had an autistic 3yr old and a 2 yr old I had to wait until baliff date (on council orders) for my stuff to be put into storage and basic stuff to be taken in a van with me to an unknown bed and breakfast ! I turned up at an address not knowing where I was given keys and said breakfast at an address which I never took up as 10 minutes away from our room. But council paid for bed and breakfast. I was given a room next to an ex female prisoner and her alcholic 12yr old daughter ! Life was hell for us for 9 mths ! But we survived ! Councils and landlords dont realise sometimes. I am a survivor but it was hard x x x

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