Young mum from Ashwell faces eviction from family home after parents' deaths
PUBLISHED: 15:32 06 April 2018 | UPDATED: 18:17 06 April 2018
A young mum from Ashwell is facing eviction from her family home after her mum and stepdad died within two years of each other – and she was told she couldn’t take on their tenancy.
Kathryn Richardson’s mum Ann, 55, died of cancer in 2015, just six weeks after being diagnosed.
Kathryn told this paper: “She passed away so quickly. It was after I found out I was pregnant, and when I told her the news she told me she thought she was ill.
“At that point there was the three of us living in the house, so after she died me and my stepdad had to get used to life without mum.”
Tragedy struck for a second time, in February this year, when Kathryn’s stepdad Dave Burley, 62 – who had been a parent to her since she was 10 – fell down the stairs at home and died.
The 26-year-old said: “I saw him at the bottom of the stairs and I was in shock. I’m still in shock – I haven’t had time to grieve, as I’ve got so much to sort out.”
In the aftermath of her stepdad’s sudden passing, Kathryn called Ashwell Housing Association to make sure she would be able to stay in their home, and was first told that she would be.
The case was then handed over to Howard Cottage Housing Association, who said that because – unbeknown to Kathryn before her stepdad’s death – her mum’s tenancy had been signed over to her stepdad, she wouldn’t be able to take on the tenancy herself as it could only be passed on once to a spouse.
She said: “So not only have I got continue on, this time without my parents, but I haven’t got anywhere to live.
“It’s overwhelming. I thought I knew stress before now, but this is the most stressed I’ve ever been.
“They built these homes so Ashwell people could stay in Ashwell because house prices were going up and up. But the way it’s going I won’t be able to live in the village where I have lived all my life.
“I’m upset because of how it’s been handled. Howard Cottage told me that I would have to move but ‘they’re not in the business of making people homeless’ so that reassured me that I would have time to work all this out.
“Then two days later I got a notice to quit hand-delivered through the door saying I would have to be out in four weeks.
“I got mixed messages, and when so much is going on four weeks isn’t long enough. Three weeks ago I buried my stepdad.
“My daughter keeps me going. She’s a little miracle – she shows me that the world isn’t all bad, even though it feels that way at the moment.
“Everything that I know has been taken away from me and now my home is too. I’m not being evicted because of anything I’ve done but because people have died – so you think they would be understanding of my situation.”
John Welch, chief executive of Howard Cottage Housing Association, said: “Ms Richardson telephoned on February 12 to advise us that her stepfather, Mr Burley, had died.
“After expressing our condolences to Ms Richardson, we explained that the tenancy for the three-bedroom property in Ashwell had been granted to her stepfather following the death of her mother in November 2015.
“As the tenancy agreement does not allow for succession to anyone other than a spouse, we explained to Ms Richardson that she would not be able to succeed to the tenancy.
“We advised her to explore other housing options. We also reassured her that we would not be asking her to move out immediately, but would allow her a reasonable amount of time to find alternative accommodation.
“Ms Richardson subsequently confirmed to us that she had contacted North Herts District Council and had put her name on the housing waiting list. However, her aunt, Mrs Snow, has since advised us that Ms Richardson will be remaining in the property and has no intention of moving out.
“As Ms Richardson has no right of succession to the tenancy, we are not charging her rent for living in the property. A tenancy does not end on the death of the tenant, so it was necessary for us to serve a Notice to Quit in order to end Mr Burley’s tenancy legally.
“The Notice to Quit expires on April 20, 2018, so after this date we can take action to reclaim the property – however, we will only do so if Ms Richardson fails to move out.
“Howard Cottage manages the property in question for Ashwell Housing Association, whose board has made the decision regarding the action we are taking on its behalf.”