5: Housing

This chapter looks at the housing situation generally in Great Yarmouth, the conditions in the House and the problems that are brought to GYROS. Problem clustering and problem cascading are discussed: without work, problems quickly accumulate as debts increase. The tenant may be evicted, particularly where the work and housing are tied together. For those with pre-settled status, there may be no safety net in the form of welfare benefits. In exploring the housing situation, the authors identify both the precarity of living arrangements – informal rental agreements and word of mouth referrals – and more obviously ‘legal’ issues – refusal to rent, poor-quality accommodation, eviction and lack of access to social housing. The response to these difficulties by GYROS was inevitably more ‘legal’ than in other areas, but it was still primarily pragmatic, seeking to avoid engagement with the courts where possible.

A. Introduction

In this chapter, we look at housing, an important strand of our research. Specifically, we focus on the House of the title of our book, an HMO just off St Peter’s Road (the Street of our title), and the experiences of its residents to help understand the issues with housing for those EU migrants living in Great Yarmouth. To gain a fuller picture, we also look at the housing-related issues which arise in the GYROS dataset.

The chapter begins with a description of the general housing situation in Great Yarmouth, particularly in the Nelson ward, where our research takes place (Section B). We then turn to look at the experiences of residents in the House. We shall see that the residents had a complex relationship with the House, their landlord and each other. To the outsider, the House was in a poor state, like so many others in and around St Peter’s Road. However, to its residents, it was a place of peace, calm and safety – certainly much better than the places they had stayed in when they first arrived in the UK (Section C.2). In Chapter 1, we saw how Darius initially lived in a seven-bedroom HMO with other families. He did not receive a tenancy agreement for his accommodation and he paid rent in cash. This informality made it difficult for him to provide a paper trail to prove entitlement to benefits. These issues were seen repeatedly in the GYROS dataset: problems with landlords, the quality of accommodation and paper trails (Section D).

The case notes in the GYROS dataset also reveal how advisers respond to those problems. We see the pragmatism which characterizes so much of GYROS’ work. However, this chapter also shows a much more prominent role of the law, which, for non-qualified community advisers, means advising clients on issues related to this field is more challenging than advising on other matters. One senior adviser said she felt most out of her depth when challenging housing decisions made by the local authority housing team, due to the complexity of housing legislation. We also see GYROS referring to other frontline organizations, especially the housing charity Shelter (Section E). Although affecting a small number of EU nationals in our research, this chapter also considers social housing and homelessness support among the EU migrant community, focusing on the issues they face with the rules around housing support eligibility and increasingly strict housing and homelessness legislation1 (Section F).

However, we begin by considering the general housing situation in Great Yarmouth.

B. Housing stock in Great Yarmouth

The housing stock in Great Yarmouth2 is generally poor. Housing ranges from the swiftly erected postwar ‘prefabs’ (prefabricated buildings), to the Victorian terraced houses that were badly affected by the flooding in the 1950s, to the fine large Victorian and Edwardian houses which once served as accommodation for holidaymakers. These have now largely been converted by private landlords into HMOs, and many of them are rented to EU nationals. The poor quality of the accommodation makes life difficult for residents. Those who can, move out, either to Gorleston, a somewhat more upmarket seaside resort a couple of miles away on the other side of the river, or to Norwich, a lively university city about 20 miles away. This means that it is the most disadvantaged who are left behind, living in poor housing in the central wards of the Town, such as Nelson.

According to the Great Yarmouth Borough Council Housing Strategy, there are 45,318 dwellings in Great Yarmouth, of which 62 per cent are owner-occupied, 20 per cent are private rented and 18 per cent are socially rented.3 The council notes that there has been significant growth in the private rented sector in Great Yarmouth in recent years, rising from 8 per cent of the total stock in 2001 to 18 per cent in 2011 and 20 per cent in 2017 – the period which broadly spans the arrival of EU nationals. This is compared to a 9 per cent increase for England as a whole.4 While there has been significant growth in the private rented sector in the Town, the standard of accommodation has not improved.5 A former community development worker said: ‘They’re paying the price now because the damp and mould issues and, again, I guess it’s the council not getting to grips with a place like Nelson ward. There’s no plan for … the quality of housing stock across Nelson ward.’6

The position is not helped by the fact that the Town has a high number of ‘absent’ landlords – these are individuals who have bought up “5 or 6 properties” but have no real link to Great Yarmouth or understanding of the communities and economic realities of the Town – nor by the number of ‘dodgy landlords’ – described as “those who take anyone and everyone”.7 Some residents in Nelson speak of exploitative landlords who rent rooms to women and establish transactional sexual relationships in lieu of rent.8 The police too recognize that the availability of cheap accommodation causes issues in the Town. One interviewee from the local police referred to the “vulnerability, criminality, and poor health and social issues” associated with housing.9

The Housing Act 2004 imposes a duty on each local housing authority to monitor the private sector housing conditions in its area; Great Yarmouth does this through its Housing Strategy, which sets out its aims to improve accommodation in the Town. This may be through using their powers under the Housing Act 2004 to ‘enforce remedial action where housing conditions are below the accepted standard’.10 The borough recognizes that many of the houses locally do not meet the necessary standard.11 The Council Housing Strategy (2018–2023)12 says that approximately 1,800 dwellings in the private rented sector (of a total of 9,000, equating to 20 per cent) have Category 1 Housing Health and Safety Rating System hazards13 – that is, those where the most serious harm outcome is identified (for example, death, permanent paralysis, permanent loss of consciousness, loss of limb or serious fracture).

The Council Housing Strategy also identifies four strategic objectives to meet current and future housing requirements in Great Yarmouth: (1) 'new homes’ (ensuring there are enough good-quality new homes); (2) ‘our homes’ (improving the quality and use of council housing stock); (3) ‘decent homes’ (providing a good mix of decent homes across all tenures); and (4) ‘healthy homes’ (meeting the needs of vulnerable households). Under the ‘decent homes’ strand, the council recognizes the borough has a ‘high number of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). Whilst they do provide low-cost accessible accommodation, we would like to see the overall number of HMOs reduce over a managed period or become better managed.’14 To this end, the council introduced a Selective Licensing Scheme for the most challenged parts of the Nelson ward, with effect from 7 January 2019 to run for five years.15 The aim is to improve housing and social conditions for private sector tenants in these areas, specifically targeting unethical landlords. The scheme has required ‘landlords of most private rented housing … to be licensed and meet conditions around health and safety and standards’.16

Reactions to the scheme have been mixed, including among council staff. One council worker said the scheme has meant that some landlords – even some “good ones” – have left, as the cost of getting their accommodation to the standard required for the licence was too high. Among the “good” landlords was one who took in homeless people if they were in receipt of benefits and engaging with community support, which was rare for landlords. Landlords refusing to rent is common for more vulnerable groups.17

Properties already subject to mandatory HMO licensing, such as the HMO in our research, are exempt from the scheme. We now turn to look at the House and the experience of its residents, in both the House and other accommodation they had lived in after coming to the UK.

C. The House and its residents

1. The House

As described in Chapter 2, the House, an HMO, is a sprawling three-storey, Grade II listed building, built in 1860. At the time of our research, it had eight tenants in six ‘units’. While each unit was referred to as self-contained (by the landlord and the tenants), residents shared toilet and laundry facilities, and they all used the main front door. Most residents had lived in the house for more than five years, and Rasa had been there for over ten years. Only three residents (Vida, Ivo and Adomas) had lived in the house for less than two years. Residents did not get tenancy agreements unless they asked for one, nor did they receive rent receipts. Moreover, they were not named on utility bills.

The tenants had to navigate and manage the poor-quality physical space of the House. Part of the house was a construction site; indeed the back stairway was blocked by a cardboard sign saying: ‘Construction: do not enter’. Rasa used this space to grow her indoor plants (Figure 2.6).

Frank, the landlord, knew there was work to do on the house, but because he was ill, this never came about. Some improvements had been made when the House was shut down by environmental health inspectors. According to Edita:

‘Environmental health evicted us all. … So it was only a couple of months. I stayed at friends. And then as soon as it was ready, like, you know, the basics done for the council to issue a licence for HMO … then I moved in back upstairs to the top flat.’18

Frank said:

‘I turned it into really a non-profit-making house [laughs]. Ah, it does make a little bit of profit, which is invested in the house. I don’t take a penny out of it. I don’t take a penny. It’s quite a lot of money for new windows at the front. It is a Grade I listed building. No, Grade II. No, Grade I listed building [it is in fact Grade II listed], and I am going to put new windows all in the front. And keep it in good order.’19

There was no central heating in the House. Each room, including the bathroom, had a plug-in electric heater. Rasa said she had only asked for a heater in the bathroom five years before, but it had made such a difference to her life; the bathroom used to be so cold, especially when she was showering at 3 am, before leaving for her factory shift. The electric heater in the bathroom was connected to an extension lead that was channelled under the door and plugged in in the adjacent room. The fire was on 24 hours a day during the winter.

The window in the bathroom did not open (it was cracked down the middle) and there was a significant amount of green moss growing on the inside of the window; there was also black mould on the ceiling (Figure 2.5). The windows throughout the house were single-glazed. Rasa said her front bay windows were falling apart. She said that because she had arthritis, she would sit at the small table in her kitchen in the winter with the heater beside her knees to keep warm.

Vida said her ceiling leaked each time it rained and her possessions got wet. She said that because of the landlord’s ill health and as he was such a nice man, she did not want to bother him to fix the roof. When Vida spent some months of lockdown in Lithuania, Frank did not charge her rent and kept her room available for her. She appreciated this generosity, describing him as a “very nice, kind person”. Edita also spoke highly of her time in the House, especially of her relationship with Frank:

‘if we ever needed to organize a party or anything, we were always able to use one of the rooms, like, will clear it, will organize it all, and Frank would always come by. You [were] always given a Christmas week for free, of rent. And back in time, he [Frank] used to take us out for Christmas dinner somewhere like on King Street. First time, going somewhere like Yankee Traveller or something. And he would like to pay for it, which was really nice.’

There was general concern about Frank’s ill health and what might happen if he were not able to keep the House on. Terese said:

‘I have always lived in the house and fear of having to move sometime in future is scaring me. I love to have a sea view in the mornings. I know that our landlord has ill health, and I am worried about the future. House is so quiet and friendly.’

In Chapter 2, we saw how the residents had improved conditions in the House (Heath et al describe this as ‘customising the space’20) by installing a toilet on the second floor and adding a guest room. As Edita said: “So if the tenants need a guest room for family, that’s amazing idea, I think. Not many HMOs will offer that.” The manager of GYROS also noted that tenants made improvements to their accommodation:

‘they’re in desperate situations, and they rent whatever is available. … But people live in places and people renovate those places where they live. How many of our clients actually do the renovations in the properties they rent …. They go in and they do all the painting, they change the flooring. They ask the landlord, and the landlord says, of course, do whatever you want. That’s good for the landlord, obviously, and people do it.’21

2. First accommodation

Though the House was in poor condition and lacked heating and Wi-Fi, it was quiet, calm and safe. This was valued by the residents, because it was such a contrast to the accommodation they had lived in when they first came to the UK; they had ‘moved up’. Many recalled their first night in the UK and the conditions of the housing they were first provided with; as noted earlier, Rasa (now the matriarch of the House) spent her first night in the UK (in 2004) in the living room of a caravan:

‘And we were seven people in the sitting room [of a caravan], and we are sleeping some on sofas, somebody on chairs. Three girls, no three boys and four girls. And we are sleeping how we come, nowhere to change, no nothing, because next morning you went to work and then [next] afternoon gave for us right room [shared room in caravan] … I arrive at eight o’clock at night. And the next morning, four o’clock, I went to work.’

This overcrowded accommodation also lacked basic facilities. Rasa said that after her first night in the caravan, “they put us in a little hotel. A double room. Very little room. We washed our jeans in a toilet sink. The basin … we washed our jeans there. And it was horrible.”

Edita told a similar story. When she first arrived in the UK, she was placed in a shared room with other women. She had no control over whom she shared with, and that could change at any time.

‘I still think it was wrong on so many levels that you don’t even get asked if you want to be in a room or do you want to share or anything. You have no, you felt you had no say. You could go and rent elsewhere, but that meant you would need to pay [£10 per week not to live there], and you get deducted for it … [I shared with] a Polish woman and then another Lithuanian woman and another Lithuanian woman. I mean there was one of them [who] was a proper hoarder, car boot [sales] was a big one, it was all about car boots, and [she] just kept buying stuff and she was just bringing so much …. And she had so much stuff. It was everywhere. … And then after that there was another Lithuanian woman who, who was, like, she was a compulsive cleaner and organizer, and … it got to the extent that she would reorganize my personal belongings and I couldn’t find, like, for example, my shoes.’

These houses could be unsafe too, especially for women. Edita was physically assaulted in the first place she stayed in and no one intervened:

‘And everyone knew about it, but no one even called the police out. Like I had to handle it. And because I was so new in the country, like, it would never cross my mind to go to police, like getting god forbid [the police] kind of thing.’

By contrast, when she was assaulted in the House (a tenant entered her room, pulled off her duvet and took pictures), Frank and her co-residents reacted very differently and got the police involved:

‘I was interviewed [by the police] … you know, like it was a proper, like, it was such a big, like, I’ve never expected that. Like someone would put so much effort to get things right for me. And then there was a proper investigation and I had to go to police [to] check the pictures. Thank God it was only my bum in underwear. Okay. And I recognized obviously the bedding and everything …. The victim support did send me loads of stuff, like, to read and booklets. I obviously disregarded them all. I guess other tenant and [Frank] were enough support.’

Others had struggled with landlords not complying with their legal responsibilities. For example, the residents talked about landlords who had refused to provide a tenancy agreement (Lina) or landlords who lied about Council Tax responsibilities (Camilla). Camilla said:

‘First time when I come in England, I have a problem. I live in first my house two years and after I move, and after about four years I have paper from Council Tax, but I no pay Council Tax. Because this landlord, he says I no need to pay this. Just pay rent and everything is covered. It’s included. And after two years, I have paper for £2,000.’

Camilla said she was called to the office of the chicken factory where she worked and told that the debt repayment would be deducted via an attachment on her earnings. She said it was humiliating to discuss a debt she was completely unaware of with her employers. She had to repay the full amount, after having already paid for Council Tax as part of her rent.

3. Interim conclusion

People sharing accommodation, of course, face various difficulties. As Heath et al note, compulsory sharing raises issues of inequality within contemporary British society:

It is one thing to have to share whilst saving for a mortgage deposit or until one is able to afford to rent a property on one’s own, or to have to share in order to subsidise one’s housing costs once already on the housing ladder. It is, however, quite another thing to face long term reliance on shared rentals in parts of the sector often owned and managed by unscrupulous landlords and with little prospects of being able to change one’s circumstances in the foreseeable future’.22

However, as we have seen, this is not how the residents of the House viewed it. We can see how they had moved through the (adapted) ‘first house, any house, dream house’ trajectory.23 Having had poor experiences with previous landlords, the friendly affability and laissez-faire attitude of Frank lifted the House into ‘dream house’ category – or, at the least, it was the best option available.

Still, the residents did experience a lot of issues in the House – to do with paperwork, health and safety concerns and a dilapidated building – and these are also seen in the GYROS dataset, to which we turn in the next section. However, the residents liked the fact that they had the freedom to make changes to the House and could organize their own living arrangements. They also appreciated Frank’s acts of kindness. For them, this outweighed the absence of formal paperwork and their concerns about the state of the accommodation. The informality of the landlord’s approach to paperwork had not, in fact, caused them problems. This may be because they had all received settled status, or in Vida’s case, pre-settled status. Apart from two tenants (Adomas, who had seasonal work, and Vida, who was just back from Lithuania), they had been in steady full-time employment for over five years. With most of them having settled status and with their relatively long periods of residence in the UK and established family networks in the UK, the residents in the House were in a stronger position than many other EU migrant workers. It is to those other migrants, who feature in the GYROS dataset, that we now turn.

D. Housing issues in the GYROS dataset

1. Introduction

Housing for EU migrant workers has always been a sensitive issue.24 There were provisions on housing in the original Workers’ Regulation 1612/68, now somewhat modified in the current Workers’ Regulation 492/11. Article 9(1) of Regulation 492/11 provides that an EU migrant worker enjoys all the rights and benefits given to national workers in matters of housing, including ownership. Article 9(2) says that a worker ‘may, with the same right as nationals, put his name down on the housing lists in the region in which he is employed, where such lists exist, and shall enjoy the resultant benefits and priorities’. So what does this mean in practice in a town like Great Yarmouth, where the housing stock is so poor?

Approximately 7 per cent of enquiries in the GYROS dataset were related to housing. These included the poor quality of housing (53 per cent of clients in the dataset described the condition of their accommodation as ‘average’, ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’)25 and the fact that their housing was tied to their employment, so if their employment ended, homelessness would follow. The largest number of enquiries concerned Council Tax; this was followed by issues with rent arrears and debt (Figure 5.1) – issues we return to in Chapter 7

A bar chart plots housing enquiries versus percentage.
Figure 5.1:

Housing enquiries on the GYROS database, 2015–2020

Note: Based on assessment of the case notes undertaken by the authors

In the GYROS data and the interviews we conducted with professionals in the Town who were working on housing issues (current and former borough council staff, Citizens Advice staff, debt advisers, staff at a specialist private advice agency, police, those working in foodbanks, library staff, homeless support workers and others – see appendix), five housing issues were recurring: the refusal by private landlords to rent to particular groups; the standard of accommodation; bureaucracy, systems and debt; tied accommodation; and eviction. We consider these in turn in the sections that follow. These sections also give an insight into how GYROS tackled the problems faced by clients.

2. Refusal to rent to prospective tenants

The last decade has seen an increase in the growth of the private rented sector nationally, and this is evident in Great Yarmouth. At national level, the share of people in the private rented sector has grown from 17 per cent in 201026 to 19 per cent in 2020.27 As noted in Section B, the figure is higher in Great Yarmouth (20 per cent of dwellings in 2017).28 The majority of clients in the GYROS dataset are in private rented accommodation, renting directly from a landlord or via a letting agent. The Town has a number of multilingual letting agents, such as the Lithuanian letting agent on St Peter’s Road. However, some private landlords refuse to rent to tenants in our cohort, as shown in this case note: ‘Client said that he has been trying to find a property, but it is very hard as they do not accept him because he works for an agency with a zero-hour contract, even though he works 40 hours per week.’29

A Portuguese adviser who runs her own advice service in the Town also said some of her clients had been refused accommodation by landlords, due to being on zero-hours contracts. This meant they were pushed into temporary hotel accommodation or less regulated private accommodation with people who will take “anyone and everyone”. She said “people become desperate, and they will take anything”.30 She had some clients paying £100 per week for a room in a run-down hotel that “is not in very good condition”. The temporary nature of their accommodation prevented individuals from putting down roots in the Town:31 they did not have a registered address, and they lacked somewhere to prepare meals or refrigerate food.

3. The standard of accommodation

The dataset revealed a range of problems associated with the standard of the accommodation clients were in. Some were mundane: ‘Client came to say that although the landlord said that someone was going to repair the washing machine on Monday, no one came. I promised to let her landlord know.’32 In another case, a client had to put up with plumbing not working for three months; GYROS called and then emailed the landlord to ask them to fix it.33

Other problems were much more serious, including families living in overcrowded accommodation. This was particularly acute in cases where one family member arrived in Great Yarmouth and was then joined by the rest of the family:

Client complained about her landlord, as he does not give her any tenancy agreement and now the landlord is complaining about the children, [saying] that she needs to keep them quiet, and she feels that he will ask her to leave. So, client is looking for another property. Client pays £230 p/w [per week] for 2 rooms in that house. One is for the children and the other is the living room that now is a room for client and her husband. Client started to fill [in] an application for a council house, but her English is not good enough to do it. I logged in and finished the application. With the consent of the client, I enclosed GYROS details for them to contact us if they need further information, as client does not speak English.34

There was no further update on the outcome of this case; the client did not return to GYROS until a year later, that time for help with her mobile telephone bill. The dataset contained little evidence of individuals complaining about overcrowding in HMOs, although GYROS was aware of this practice via anecdotal sources.

The dataset also showed clients coming in for help with the poor standard of accommodation:

Client rented a property and according to client they went to view the property at night, and they thought that everything was ok, but when they moved to the property, they saw that it was not just clean up that it needed; it was a lot of things wrong with the property. [A]ccording to clients the heaters do not work, there are no doors in the rooms and the bathroom is next to the kitchen and the door does not close. When they talked with the landlord, he asked for the tenancy agreement and took it away from them and refuses to give them the £400 deposit and told them that if they are not happy with the things here, they should go back to Portugal.35

The GYROS adviser phoned the landlord, who said “he does not want to talk about it and that there was no problem with the property and [he] h[u]ng-up the phone”. The adviser told the client that there was “no cooling off period for a tenancy agreement” and once they signed the tenancy agreement they are bound by it. There were no other updates on this case.

This case was not an isolated example. Another case note referred to a client (Sara) who had asked her landlord to fix the ceiling after part of it had come down, hitting her and her son:

According to client, her landlord came to the property last Friday late in the evening/night, with 2 other men and forced her to leave. Client was afraid and left the property and neighbour helped her moving the stuff away. I explained to client that she shouldn’t have left the property as the landlord didn’t present any eviction notice and that the council would consider that she made herself homeless. I advised client to go to the police and explain what happened.36

GYROS worked intensively with Sara on other issues in the six months that followed, including help with benefits, education for her child, debt (due to the NHS surcharge) and employment but there were no further developments in her housing case. We come back to this case later, when we discuss the interface between GYROS’ advisers and the law (Section E). Sara’s case (like Darius’ and Lara’s – see chapters 1 and 2, respectively) provides an example of the intensive support that clients need, often over several years. Their problems may cluster and are often multifaceted.

There were some examples in the dataset of children’s services becoming involved where parents were not able to furnish their child’s room or manage their accommodation appropriately to meet the needs of their children. This is often due to cycles of low-paid work and debt. We saw this with Nikolai’s case in Chapter 4, when children’s services became involved because the family was in receipt of food parcels and had been unable to fully furnish their rented property. We see this again in the following case note: ‘Client said she received a health visitor last Thursday and that she noticed that her daughter’s room was sparsely decorated. The health visitor called a company in order to get some donated furniture for the child.’37

4. Bureaucratic issues, paperwork and debt

The dataset shows issues tend to arise for GYROS’ clients in the context of bureaucratic housing procedures and systems. Poor English language skills and IT skills, both pronounced among GYROS’ clients, exacerbate these issues. Specifically, there is a lack of familiarity with UK systems. Some clients are not aware of the need to pay water or Council Tax bills, which do not exist in their home countries. Some are victims of unscrupulous landlords who tell them bills are included in the rent; they only find out later that this was not the case, as Camilla experienced. The digital march of systems too – such as the systems for Universal Credit and discretionary housing payments – means that administrative work which used to be done by the relevant professional is now pushed back to the customer.38 And in many cases, the problems created by this ended up at GYROS’ door.

In relation to housing enquiries, the GYROS dataset showed that clients struggle with Council Tax in particular – registering for it, not paying it and getting into debt to pay it and then facing court fines. The following case note shows just how complex navigating income thresholds can be, especially when income fluctuates:

Client said that in Dec[ember] 2014 she received a CT [Council Tax] bill of over £500 and she could not afford to pay, and my colleague contacted GYBC [Great Yarmouth Borough Council] and made an agreement to pay £73 p/m [per month] for 3 months to cover her last CT bill as client’s HB [Housing Benefit]/CT was awarded and she did not have to pay the full CT, but just £285. Then in January she received a letter for her to pay £202, but because she was paying by instalments, she thought that it was the same bill. … But what happened was that in January, client’s HB/CT was cancelled as they did not qualify for HB/CT any more due to high income, so client was eligible to pay the full CT and that is why she received the bill, and it was overlooked. I explained to client that her CT bill from 2014 was £565.72, but she got some HB/CT which lowered her CT bill, but then she lost HB/CT and that her CT for 2014 go back to the full amount, she made some payments and some credit from CT benefit. Now client received a Court Summons to pay the full amount. I called CT and ask if we could make an arrangement so client could pay for it without them taking further action.39

The client agreed to pay £40 per month and to pay some money immediately, and she was advised to make a new Housing Benefit claim.

Unethical landlords also cause issues for clients, as shown in this case note:

Apparently, client is paying his landlord by cash for water bill charges and has no receipts of these payments. According to client, his family and the other flats pay the landlord for water charges, but they have received a bill from water services with the same amount that they have paid to their landlord. Client is worried and said that [he] wanted GYROS to give him an update as well as client needs some of the documents given last time he was seen by GYROS.40

The debt issues resulting from these bureaucratic processes and systems is covered in more detail in Chapter 6.

While the dataset had many examples of bad practice, occasionally examples of genorosity did come to light:

Client called and said that her landlady sent a message asking for the rent. … Client said that last month her landlady was very nice and did not charge for the rent, but she cannot keep going like this. … I called the landlady and explained to her client’s situation and that she is waiting for a reply from UC [Universal Credit] and that we are doing everything we can to help client as well. [Landlady] was very understanding and said that she will wait as she does not want to see client homeless with her children. She asked to be kept informed about client’s situation and she will wait till client is able to make any payments. I told landlady that we will do.41

5. Tied accommodation

As we saw in Chapter 4, for some EU migrant workers, their accommodation comes with their jobs. If they are working on farms, their accommodation might be a caravan on site (see Figure 5.2). Given the remoteness of the farms, this helps with the early morning starts and long days. The caravans are normally ex-holiday caravans. Workers live six to a caravan (two in each room).

A view of a rural setting with uneven grass-covered ground and a fence. A person walks near trailers.
Figure 5.2:

A caravan housing migrant workers in Cornwall

Source: image authors’ own

For those working in factories, it might be a room in (long vacant) tourist accommodation. We saw how Rasa was placed in the small ‘hotel’ room, where she would wash her jeans in the sink. We also saw in Chapter 2 how turkey producer Bernard Matthews hired a housing coordinator to support people they recruited in Lisbon. We also saw that both Edita and Darius had paid private individuals to arrange both their work and accommodation. The provision by recruitment agencies of accommodation to factory workers can lead to difficulties. As we saw in Chapter 2, the police said that community tensions arose when recruitment agencies placed large numbers of Romanian workers in a seafront hotel, since the absence of any communal space in the hotel had forced residents to socialize on the streets.

In the tourist industry, workers might be housed in a caravan park. This had been the case for Jorge42 (Portuguese, 67, lived in UK since 2004). He lived and worked in one of the holiday parks near Great Yarmouth for 11 years. When the park closed, he moved into the Town. His case note says: ‘client started working in [a local chicken factory] for a while when he became ill and was dismissed due to long absence, which also meant he lost his accommodation too, making him homeless.’ Jorge approached GYROS for help to make a claim for Universal Credit. He received an advance payment, which he used to pay for two weeks’ temporary accommodation. A fortnight later, he returned to GYROS for help with housing. His case notes show that he visited three different services: Housing Options at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, which referred him to the local charity supporting homeless people, which had no availability and referred him to the Job Centre, which referred him back to GYROS. GYROS called Great Yarmouth Borough Council to understand what their housing team had advised; due to language difficulties, Jorge had not understood his conversation with them. Language difficulties also meant he struggled to interact with other services, such as the Job Centre. Ultimately, GYROS helped Jorge find private rented accommodation in the Town (a room in a house share).

Jorge’s case highlights the problem of tied accommodation: when the work stops, so does the accommodation. The story of a Bulgarian Roma couple in their sixties is instructive. They moved to the UK in 2020 because they could not find work in Bulgaria, due to the discrimination they faced as Roma people. They could not speak English or read or write Bulgarian. They had been brought to the UK by an agency. They lived in one room, sharing bathroom and kitchen facilities with 15 others. They said alcohol and drug abuse was common in the accommodation. When the woman suffered serious ill health, making her unable to work, her husband took time off to look after her.43 In December 2022, someone came to their door every day, telling them they had to leave. They had been to the police to complain about the harassment. They had been advised by GYROS, council staff and others that they did not need to leave unless they were issued with the correct court notices (see Section 6). However, a Bulgarian speaking work coordinator at the agency told them that they would never receive any paperwork and they would have to leave.

Historically, January is one of the busiest times of year for GYROS: seasonal poultry contracts come to an end and the accommodation tied to this also ends, meaning they see a large increase in homelessness applications. This happened to a younger Bulgarian couple who had lived with their children in the same agency-provided accommodation as the older couple. They were facing eviction since there was no longer any work available. Like the older couple, they could not speak English or read or write in Bulgarian. They did not know what they had signed at the employment agency, as the Bulgarian work coordinator told them that it was fine to sign, and they trusted him. He was now the one enforcing their eviction and refusing any paperwork. The combination of their work record and the fact they had children (in the case of the older couple, it was the fact that the woman had health difficulties) meant that they might be able to get help from the local housing team, but they would struggle to do so without paperwork, including evidence to show they were facing eviction.

6. Eviction

6.1 The GYROS dataset

As Sara’s case shows (Section 3), complaints about the quality of accommodation can lead to landlords evicting tenants forcibly, thus breaching the relevant housing legislation.44 Forcible evictions are not infrequent, especially when rent arrears are involved:

Client said that letting agent has been around yesterday, demanding full payment of £1,700 rent arrears. She said that he was threatening her that if she doesn’t pay then she will be on the street, her children will be taken into care and she will be deported to Lithuania. We advised client that if she feels threatened then she must call Police.45

Another client, Ramona, went to Cape Verde for her mother’s funeral and returned a month later to discover she and her family were homeless. Ramona said the rent had been paid by her family while she was away, but her landlord had nevertheless turned off the electricity and put a padlock on the door, locking all of her belongings in the flat. She moved into temporary accommodation provided by the council. GYROS could not reach a Portuguese solicitor, so the adviser called the homeless charity Shelter, which advised GYROS to help the client write a letter to the landlord. GYROS also helped the client to complain to the police about her treatment. The police told the client that the landlord had presented court orders and an eviction notice under the Housing Act 1988, but given the poor treatment by the landlord, the client could make a complaint at the police station. Shelter followed up with the client.

The speed with which matters can accumulate and spiral out of control for individuals is seen in Clara’s case (Box 5.1).

Box 5.1: Clara’s story
Clara46 was having difficulty paying her rent, as described in the following case note:

Client said that her landlady came to her house to ask for the rent as she is 12 weeks in arrears. Client told the landlady that she is on SSP [statutory sick pay] and that her benefits have stopped and that as soon as she receives any money, she will pay the rent. Client said that landlady and her husband were rude and yelled at her and they changed the door lock. Also, client said that her 18 years old son was too nervous, and she asked him to leave the house as she was afraid that he would lose his temper, so he left and when he went to the front door he slammed the door and hit the glass and it broke. They [landlord] called the police and client’s son was arrested and now he needs to go to court. Client understands that they will have to pay for the glass, but it was an accident. Client said that when the police came, they talked with the landlord and she does not know what [was said], because there was no translator, and the police asked for the property keys and client gave it to the police, although she does not understand why as they had changed the locks already.

The GYROS adviser sent an email to a contact at the police to get more information about the way her landlord acted, ‘as it is not according to the eviction process’. The adviser also told the client to look for another property, as her Housing Benefit was being sorted out and she would have help with Housing Benefit and Council Tax.

Clara next presented to GYROS after having been to Great Yarmouth Borough Council:

Client said that she went to council and that the adviser called her landlady to advise her landlady to give the keys back to client. However, according to client all the calls went to voicemail and client is still living in friend’s house. Council adviser gave client a Shelter card and advised her to call them.

I called Shelter but no one answered the phone. I also called council to get an update in client’s claim. I tried several times and different numbers; the call went through several options and then it switched off after the options. I told client I would write an email to Council asking for an update regarding her HB [Housing Benefit] claim. Client was ok with this.

GYROS arranged for the Housing Benefit to be paid directly to the landlady, and Clara was able to return to her property. GYROS helped Clara report this incident to the police. The following case note reflects the advice from the police at the time:

The PC [police constable] told client that what the landlady did was not right, and client could take it forward if she wanted, but she needed to see what was best for her as she is now back at the property and her HB [Housing Benefit] has been paid to the landlady and it is up to client to decide. Client said that she does not want to do anything as she does not have any money to move out of the property. Once client is back to work, she will look for another property.

The case notes for both Ramona and Clara show that in these sorts of cases there is a need for multi-agency intervention. They also show that both the council housing team and GYROS rely on housing law experts at Shelter. Shelter holds the housing legal aid contract for Norfolk. The council advisers rely on GYROS’ expertise when it comes to immigration status, especially around the EUSS and related eligibility and access rights. All agencies also rely on the police, but the police feel ill-equipped to deal with the complexity of housing law and eviction procedures. As a local police officer said:

I think we probably don’t get involved in as many landlord/tenant issues … because it sits within civil law, we’re criminal law. I think there is a lack of knowledge for some police officers around actually some of it falls into our world. So, it’s illegal to evict somebody, it is a criminal offence to evict somebody unlawfully.47 But then falls into: are they doing it unlawfully, do you know what I mean? It is a really difficult area. … So, it’s probably an area where we could expand on, it’s an area where the neighbourhood policing teams are trying to improve on, but it’s also around, we try to make sure they get directed to the right people. So, council housing officers, Citizens Advice, people like that.48

As we saw in the introduction, GYROS too feels that housing cases are where their advisers are most out of their depth. Yet the database case notes reveal staff adept at understanding the rules, especially concerning eviction and the right to seek help from the council. Take the case of a family in an overcrowded one-bedroom apartment:

I told client that he still has some time as it will take some time for the judge to issue the order and that he will be given more 28 days. By then, client should be okay to go to the council and ask for help with a house and they will be able to offer him a temporary accommodation as they will not let him be on the streets with the children. I also explained he will need to pass 5 criteria, being homeless, having connection to the borough, having the right to public funds, have the right to reside and above all not to be found that he is in that situation by his own doing. … I could send an email to the council as well asking for his claim to be considered. Client was okay with that.49

The case notes also show staff are juggling other applications while managing the timelines associated with legal action. One case note recorded advice to the client not to leave the property despite receiving a notice requiring possession due to rent arrears; instead, they were advised to wait for a court order for possession, by which time their Housing Benefit application would have been addressed.50

Sometimes, the case becomes more complex because children’s services are involved:

Client has 3 children. His ex-partner left him on 10th May 2016 with their youngest child. The other two children are with client. Few months ago, his landlord decided to sell the house and client was evicted. GYBC [Great Yarmouth Borough Council] provided temporary accommodation and we helped him to claim UC [Universal Credit]. His UC payments started in November, but he paid only part of the rent initially. So, GYBC made a referral to children’s services.

GYROS attended the appointment with the client, and an interpreter was also booked. The social worker explained that the client needed to make sure he did not become intentionally homeless. The adviser helped the client understand how much rent he had to pay. The client was helped into appropriate accommodation.

6.2 Possession hearings

Attendance at court is most likely for GYROS clients if they are being evicted. The possession list in Great Yarmouth is every other Monday and is a mixture of social landlords (Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Broadland Housing Association, Orbit Housing Association and Saffron Housing Association), private landlords and mortgage repossessions. Social landlords and mortgage repossessions are listed as four per 30 minutes, private landlords are two every 30 minutes. Generally, judges consider the appropriate time for social landlords is 5 minutes; for mortgagees, 10 minutes; and for private landlords, 15 minutes.51

We witnessed this ‘conveyor belt justice’52 in the possession hearings we attended in Norwich. The Shelter team (3.5 full-time equivalent posts) in Norfolk acts as ‘duty solicitor’ in Norwich every week and in King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth every other week.53 The Legal Aid Agency funds the Housing Possession Court Duty Schemes throughout England and Wales to provide on-the-day emergency advice and advocacy to anyone facing possession proceedings.54 For many, seeing the duty solicitor just before their case is heard is the first opportunity they have had access to legal advice.

The Shelter duty solicitor said that the housing list is focused on landlords following the correct procedure; the court does not look at the broader circumstances leading to the eviction.55 This, Shelter said, can be difficult for tenants to understand, especially if they feel they have been treated unfairly and would like this to be conveyed to the judge. However, most cases are resolved before the court hearing takes place. In many of the cases listed on the days we attended, a repayment plan had been negotiated (at a fee of £355, added to the debts already facing the individual) and so suspended possession orders were granted; the threat of legal action had in some cases galvanized the negotiation in the first place. The district judge in Norwich allowed time for tenants and landlords to ask questions and made sure they had understood the financial requirements, even if the wider process was bewildering. The judge also said that social landlords (the majority on the listing that day) had the resources to help their tenants manage arrears, arrange help with energy bills and provide food parcels. By contrast, with private landlords, the sense was that tenants were on their own.56

The perception of the local judiciary was that the distribution of work between mortgage possessions and possession claims by social and private landlords in Great Yarmouth was not particularly different to that in other courts in the area. A judge noted that:

‘While there are a few more EU migrants in Great Yarmouth, that is reflective of the local demographic, but does not seem to be significantly different to other courts. If anything, it is King’s Lynn [which] has the larger number of Eastern European litigants in possession cases compared to other local courts, and a correspondingly greater need for interpreters.’

The judge added:

‘The significant difference with private landlords in Great Yarmouth is that they are more naive/amateurish, and they are more likely to be self-represented. This may reflect the cheaper housing stock and that the landlords have less resources.’

The fact that the local judiciary had not noticed a significant number of EU migrants before them may support the view that many of the housing issues facing GYROS’ clients do not make it as far as the court room. In part, this may be due to the help GYROS and Shelter are able to give before cases get to court, but it may also be due to the informality of some of the housing arrangements, meaning that the landlords simply throw the tenants out rather than going through the formal eviction process.

E. GYROS’ response to these problems

In describing cases recorded in the GYROS dataset in Section D, we also gain an insight into the work of GYROS’ advisers, who take a holistic person (and problem)-centred approach to helping their clients, translating paper work, undertaking case work such as contacting landlords, accompanying and supporting in meetings with the Housing Team or Children’s Services, for example.57 As we have seen, they are reliant on Shelter to help avoid evictions where possible. Where GYROS’ clients have gone to court, it was as defendants in eviction processes. As we saw in relation to employment, in Chapter 4, they do not rely on the formal legal process to enforce their rights, let alone go to court. For example, harassment by a landlord, as in Sara’s and Ramona’s cases, is a criminal offence.58 Yet the police were not called and, as the interview with the police officer shows, there is considerable confusion on the part of the police as to whether this is a civil or a criminal matter.

We have also seen the issues related to the poor quality of accommodation in the Town – the leaking roof in the House and the collapsed ceiling in Sara’s flat. In Walker v Hobbs,59 a breach of an implied term was found (in relation to fitness for habitation) after ‘the ceilings were in a ruinous and dangerous condition and fell down and seriously injured the female plaintiff. … [T]he ceilings were in a dangerous condition, and therefore that the rooms were not, speaking in a broad sense, fit for human habitation.’60 Similarly, in Summers v Salford Corporation,61 it was held that a window in a main room which could not be opened was a breach. This recalls the window in the bathroom in the House – the only form of ventilation in that room – which could not be opened due to the large crack in the glass and the considerable moss growing inside its wooden frame. More recently the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, said to ‘represent the biggest advance in tenant’s rights relating to housing conditions for a generation’62 requires all houses (new tenancies from March 2019 and in due course all tenancies63) to be at a certain standard for human habitation, and that standard should be maintained. With the new Act, ‘the court can make the landlord carry out repairs or put right health and safety problems. The court can also make the landlord pay compensation to the tenant’.64 Yet there is no mention of the legislation or of legal remedies in the GYROS dataset. As we saw in the previous chapter, on employment, EU migrant workers mainly accept the issues they face or move on; GYROS can help with that process of moving on.

F. Social housing

The social rented sector represents about 17 per cent of households nationally and 18 per cent in Great Yarmouth,65 making it smaller than the private rented sector.66 About 15 per cent of EU nationals in the UK are in social housing, slightly lower than for UK nationals (16 per cent) and non-EU nationals (19 per cent).67 The GYROS dataset shows that only about 10 per cent of their clients live in council accommodation (a significantly lower share than the national figure). Therefore, most participants in our research were in the private rented sector and we have focused on this reality throughout the chapter. However, can those (low-paid) EU nationals have access to housing in the social rented sector?

When free movement of persons was first being discussed in the early 1950s, there were concerns among some EU member states that EU nationals and their joining family members might overwhelm social housing support in host countries. These concerns were not borne out in practice. Specifically, in the UK, ‘[e]vidence soon emerged revealing that relatively small numbers of foreign nationals, and virtually no migrant workers, were gaining access to and living within the social rented sector’.68 Access to local authority housing support (social housing and homelessness support) is dependent on EU migrants satisfying a number of tests. EU nationals with settled status (more than five years of residence) are automatically eligible for support, because they have an automatic ‘right to reside’ (dependent on further housing eligibility tests, which are applicable to all, as outlined by the GYROS adviser to the family in overcrowded accommodation). By contrast, those who have pre-settled status (less than five years of residence) need a ‘qualifying right’69 to access housing support. This means they must satisfy the right to reside test and show they are habitually resident in the UK. To pass the right to reside test, the individual must show they are a qualified person70 residing lawfully in the UK. Generally, jobseekers, students and self-sufficient people are not eligible for assistance.

To show they are habitually resident in the UK, individuals have to demonstrate when they moved to the UK and their residence in the UK, using documents such as tenancy agreements, rent payments and utility bills. This is where the lack of paperwork discussed in sections C and D becomes a major stumbling block. The effect of these rules would be that, as an example, an EU national who has lived in the UK for four years but has not been working for the last year and is now experiencing housing precarity will struggle to access any housing support, as they have no ‘qualifying’ right. They will therefore be described as ‘NRPF’ (no recourse to public funds). This can be particularly acute for those facing homelessness or for victims of domestic abuse who may find they are unable to access any accommodation or refuge as they are unable to meet the requirements of the prescribed tests. We return to consider the application of these tests in more detail in Chapter 6 alongside recent cases challenging this position.

G. Conclusion

One of the themes of this book is precarity. This chapter has shown how precarity plays out in respect of housing: difficulty in getting access to accommodation for those on precarious zero-hours contracts, poor-quality and sometimes structurally unsound accommodation, rapid loss of accommodation if it is tied to a job which comes to an end or where the landlord decides to evict the tenant, and then the difficulties of getting local housing support due to earlier lack of paperwork (from informal tenancy arrangements and names not appearing on bills).

The other theme of the book is pragmatism, especially by GYROS’ advisers in addressing clients’ problems. The advice that GYROS advisers give on housing-related issues is more ‘legal’ than that for other areas we have explored. The advisers often learn the rules through experience with similar cases. However, we see no evidence of advisers recommending formal legal resolution pathways to address problems concerning, for example, unfit accommodation. The first response is to try to contact the landlord to get the problem addressed. Sometimes, as in the case of the House, it is the residents who fix the problems themselves. More often, tenants just live with the problems. That said, the council is trying to work to improve the housing. We leave the final word to a local police officer:

‘I think locally there is a real drive to enhance standard of living, our accommodation … I think there’s real opportunity on the back of COVID to springboard this town. Which sits outside the police’s realm, but we have a part to play. The amount of money, which is coming into the new marketplace, the harbour, the third river crossing. And there’s a real scope, you know what I mean, for the selective licensing to just bring up a standard of the accommodation. It is not about having this glorious expensive accommodation. It’s about actually having a standard which is fit for purpose, safe and wholesome.’71

1

Public Interest Law Centre, Still Here: Defending the Rights of EU Citizens after Brexit and Covid19 (Public Interest Law Centre, July 2021), available at: www.pilc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/PILC_EEA_A4_ONLINE-1.pdf, accessed 19 October 2021.

2

Some of this section draws on C. Barnard and F. Costello, ‘The darker side of the EU internal market ideal: free movement of workers living in a coastal town’ in J. Adams-Prassl, S. Bogojevic, A. Ezrachi and D. Leczyjiewicz (eds) The Internal Market Ideal: Essays in Honour of Stephen Weatherill (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2023).

3

Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Housing Strategy, 2018–2023, available at: www.great-yarmouth.gov.uk/policies, accessed 23 November 2023. Data drawn from ‘Supporting evidence’, available at: www.great-yarmouth.gov.uk/media/2712/Great-Yarmouth-Borough-Council-Housing-Strategy-Evidence/pdf/Housing_Strategy_-_Evidence_Appendix_2018.pdf?m=637025933557470000, accessed 23 November 2023, 2.

4

Ibid.

5

Cf Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, ‘A fairer private rented sector’ Gov.uk (16 June 2022), available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-fairer-private-rented-sector, accessed 21 March 2023.

6

Interview with former council community worker (online, October 2021).

7

Interview with council housing team worker (Great Yarmouth, October 2021).

8

‘Right to succeed: emerging themes’, document on file with researchers.

9

Interview with local police officer (Great Yarmouth, November 2021).

10

S. Garner and A. Frith, A Practical Approach to Landlord and Tenant (8th edn, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 359.

11

Great Yarmouth Borough Council, n 3, 8.

12

Ibid, ‘Supporting Evidence’ n 3, 10.

13

Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Housing Health and Safety Rating System: Operating Guidance (London: Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, 2006), available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/15810/142631.pdf, accessed 23 November 2023.

14

Great Yarmouth Borough Council, n 3, 8.

15

‘What is covered by the Selective Licensing Scheme’ Great Yarmouth Borough Council, available at: www.great-yarmouth.gov.uk/article/5261/What-area-is-covered-by-the-Selective-Licensing-Scheme, accessed 23 November 2023. This was adopted under Section 80 Housing Act 2004.

16

‘What does Selective Licensing mean?’ Great Yarmouth Borough Council, available at: www.great-yarmouth.gov.uk/article/5263/What-does-Selective-Licensing-mean#_content, accessed 21 February 2023. Great Yarmouth Borough Council, ‘Public notice: designation of an area for selective licensing’, available at: www.great-yarmouth.gov.uk/media/3406/Selective-Licensing-PublicNotice/pdf/Designation_of_an_Area_for_Selective_Licensing___Public_Notice.pdf?m=636773736749230000, accessed 23 November 2023; according to the council: ‘There are a number of potential consequences for failing to licence a property. A person who operates a licensable property without a licence is liable to prosecution and unlimited fines. The operation of an unlicensed property could lead to the Council, or a tenant, making an application to the First Tier Tribunal to obtain a Rent Repayment Order in respect of up to 12 month’s rent or housing benefit monies paid. As a last resort, the Council is also empowered to take control of unlicensed premises by making an Interim Management Order. Furthermore, in relation to shorthold tenancies, no section 21 notice may be served under the Housing Act 1988 in respect of an unlicensed property. The Council may also use other legal remedies as appropriate’, 1.

17

For example, ‘No DSS’ is now ruled unlawful discrimination: York County Court (2020). Statement of reasons: F00YO154. The anonymized Order and Reasons are available at: https://nearlylegal.wpenginepowered.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/20.07.02-Redacted-Court-Order.pdf; ‘No DSS: landmark court ruling declares housing benefit discrimination is unlawful’ Shelter (July 2020), available at: https://england.shelter.org.uk/media/press_release/no_dss_landmark_court_ruling_confirms_housing_beneben_discrimination_unlawful, accessed 23 November 2023. See also J. Meers, ‘“Professionals only please”: discrimination against housing benefit recipients on online rental platforms’ (2021) Housing Studies (online) 1.

18

Interview with Edita (Great Yarmouth, September 2021).

19

Interview with Frank (Suffolk, September 2021).

20

S. Heath, K. Davies, G. Edwards and R. Scicluna, Shared Housing, Shared Lives: Everyday Experiences across the Life Course (London: Routledge, 2018), 90.

21

Interview with GYROS manager (Great Yarmouth, September 2021).

22

Heath et al (2018), n 20, 130.

23

V. Parutis ‘“Economic migrants” or “middling transnationals”? East European migrants’ experiences of work in the UK’ (2011) 52 International Migration, 36, 36.

24

C. Barnard and S. Fraser Butlin, ‘Free movement: a case study in state autonomy and EU control’ in M. Dawson and M. Jachtenfuchs (eds) Autonomy without Collapse (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022).

25

GYROS ask all clients about the type of housing they are in and the condition of their housing, as a triage question.

26

‘English Housing Survey’ Gov.uk, available at: www.gov.uk/government/collections/english-housing-survey, accessed 5 January 2023.

27

Ibid.

28

Great Yarmouth Borough Council, n 3.

29

Client ID 379.

30

Portuguese speaking adviser (Great Yarmouth, November 2021).

31

A. Grzymala-Kazlowska, ‘From connecting to social anchoring: adaptation and “settlement” of Polish migrants in the UK’ 44 Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 252.

32

Client ID 178.

33

Client ID 188.

34

Client ID 439.

35

Client ID 494.

36

Client ID 1167.

37

Client ID 63.

38

C. Østergaard Madsen, I. Lindgren and U. Melin, ‘The accidental caseworker – how digital self-service influences citizens’ administrative burden’ (2022) 39(1) 101653, Government Information Quarterly 1.

39

Client ID 46.

40

Client ID 520.

41

Client ID 19.

42

Client ID 383.

43

Bulgarian national focus group (Great Yarmouth, December 2022).

44

Specifically, Housing Act 1988. See further, ‘Private renting for tenants: evictions in England’ Gov.uk, available at: www.gov.uk/private-renting-evictions, accessed 23 November 2023; ‘Eviction notices from private landlords’ Shelter, available at: https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/eviction/eviction_notices_from_private_landlords, accessed 23 November 2023.

45

Client ID 186.

46

Client ID 131.

47

For more information on this, see ‘How to deal with illegal eviction’ Shelter, available at: https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/eviction/how_to_deal_with_illegal_eviction/what_is_an_illegal_eviction, accessed 21 February 2023.

48

Interview with local police officer (Great Yarmouth, October 2021).

49

Client ID 293.

50

Client ID 293.

51

Information provided by the local judiciary on 13 February 2023.

52

J. Robins and D. Newman, Justice in a Time of Austerity: Stories from a System in Crisis (Bristol: Bristol University Press, 2021), 9.

53

Due to the lottery of provision, there is no equivalent scheme in Suffolk, the neighbouring county.

54

‘Housing Possession Court Duty Schemes (HPCDS)’ Gov.uk, available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/housing-possession-court-duty-schemes-hpcds, accessed 23 November 2023.

55

Shadowing at Norwich Court: Possessions Listings (November 2022).

56

Ibid.

57

For more on the multifaceted role of advice givers see: I. Koch and D. James, ‘The state of the welfare state: advice, governance and care in settings of austerity’ (2022) 87 Ethnos 1, 7; A. Forbess and D. James, ‘Acts of assistance: navigating the interstices of the British state with the help of non-profit legal advisers’, (2014) 58(3) Social Analysis Berghahn Journals 73

58

Section 1(3A) Protection from Eviction Act 1977: ‘Subject to subsection (3B) below, the landlord of a residential occupier or an agent of the landlord shall be guilty of an offence if—

(a) he does acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of the residential occupier or members of his household, or

(b) he persistently withdraws or withholds services reasonably required for the occupation of the premises in question as a residence, and (in either case) he knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, that that conduct is likely to cause the residential occupier to give up the occupation of the whole or part of the premises or to refrain from exercising any right or pursuing any remedy in respect of the whole or part of the premises. See also ‘How to deal with harassment from landlords or agents’, Shelter, available from: https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/eviction/harassment_by_a_private_landlord, accessed 23 November 2023.

59

Walker v Hobbs & Co (1889) QBD 458.

60

Ibid, Lord Coleridge CJ.

61

Summers v Salford Corporation [1943] AC 283, 1 All ER 68, HL.

62

HHJ J. Luba, C. O’Donnell and G. Peaker, Housing Conditions, Tenants’ Rights (6th edn, London: LAG Education and Service Trust Limited, 2019), 5.

63

Ibid, 6.

64

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, ‘Guide for tenants: Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018’, Gov.uk (6 March 2019), available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/homes-fitness-for-human-habitation-act-2018/guide-for-tenants-homes-fitness-for-human-habitation-act-2018, accessed 15 March 2023.

65

Great Yarmouth Borough Council, n 3, 8.

66

‘English Housing Survey’, n 26.

67

For more, see ‘Migrants and housing in the UK: experiences and impacts’ The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford (2 September 2022), available at: https://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/briefings/migrants-and-housing-in-the-uk/, accessed 23 November 2023.

68

D. Robinson, ‘New immigrants and migrants in social housing in Britain: discursive themes and lived realities’ (2010) 38 Policy and Politics 57, 57.

69

Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 SI 2016/1052.

70

A definition is provided in Chapter 3, n 31.

71

Interview with local police officer (November 2021).

  • Figure 5.1:

    Housing enquiries on the GYROS database, 2015–2020

    Note: Based on assessment of the case notes undertaken by the authors

  • Figure 5.2:

    A caravan housing migrant workers in Cornwall

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