Day 1 – Down & Out In Bournemouth & Poole: A Revelation
It is possible for a landlord whom you have spent eight months engaging in the business of leasing a room from, to take a weeks rent from you and then hand you a notice of eviction. It is also entirely feasible that the said landlord having written you a letter of intent, making you aware that you are to blame for your eviction, should then have the unspoken support of the local council and the local police force. Entirely feasible, though it should be wholly impossible, since to evict a tenant from an assured short-hold tenancy is illegal.
I discussed and reflected on this all as I spoke with a police officer who assured me that my landlord’s eviction of myself, with just three hours notice, was a civil and not a criminal matter, and that not until he had illegally evicted me could they intervene. For them to intervene before then would require an immediate or looming threat of violence. I had, had to wander down to the police station (only to find it was shut on the weekend) and then dial 101 and then a police operator in order to receive this advice.
I wandered back up to the house to find that the Landlord had carried out his threat three hours early. My partner had wandered out of the house -in a light summer shirt- for a smoke to calm his nerves, and the landlord had slammed the door shut behind him locking it. My partner, standing there in his recycled sandals, fag in hand, was panic stricken. “He can’t do this!” he said, I picked up his phone and dialled the police again, told them that the landlord had indeed threatened to assault me and waited for them to turn up.
Mobile phones, bank cards, laptops, USB pens, work clothes, coats, all had been left in the room the landlord was refusing to allow us to access.The officers turned up and spoke with the landlord, could he chuck us out on a whim? He could? Could we get back inside the house to pack our things up? No, he wasn’t ‘at ease’ with that idea, the police could pack up some of our things for us, by the way could we also give them the keys to the house? It wouldn’t do if we were to end up squatting there. It was a Saturday, where were we supposed to go? The officer helpfully suggested the CAB but they were closed so we headed to St Mary’s church office. The landlords were told by the police that they would not be able to touch any of our belongings, on pain of being potentially accused by us of theft. For the time being our property was safe.
The landlord, knew I was a familiar sight at mass, he also knew that if I went to church after he’d handed me an eviction notice I’d get help. So he timed his eviction notice and our rent payment to coincide with the time I would have been at church, then we would have no opportunity to get help over the weekend. Unfortunately for him the local priest, Father Mark Skelton, was still at home when we called and along with his church workers, he arranged temporary accommodation for us half a metre down the road from our nefarious landlord.
The reason for this punishment? The landlady having received a rent payment from us on the previous Saturday, then demanded a further payment of the security deposit three days later. When told by me that we would need a little time to get the money together she erupted with anger and demanded a payment there and then. For once in eight months I stood my ground with the lady and suggested she wait until that Saturday. Her husband appeared to have accepted that arrangement, but on the Saturday he evicted us so it was clear that I had been mistaken.
We were lucky that rainy weekend, instead of being out of doors in Poole Park or lurking around the civic centre in Parkstone we were snug in a local B & B courtesy of the local Roman Catholic Church. Though I might add, without toiletries and without the bulk of our belongings.