Screen bailiff’s back­ing for woman fac­ing evic­tion

‘She has done noth­ing wrong, and is try­ing to do the right thing’

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - News - by Ai­dan Bar­low abar­low@thek­m­ @aidan­bar­lowKM

A TV bailiff who has been called to evict hun­dreds of ten­ants is of­fer­ing his sup­port to one woman fac­ing home­less­ness.

Paul Bo­hill has ap­peared on the tele­vi­sion pro­gramme Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Any­way on Chan­nel 5, be­ing called to claim prop­erty and cash on be­half of com­pa­nies and land­lords.

But this week he at­tended the home of Marie Lan­caster in Park Farm, Ashford, and rather than es­cort­ing her from the home, he in­stead of­fered her his sup­port.

Mrs Lan­caster, 44, was served with an evic­tion no­tice by her land­lords and is await­ing a court date for the home where she has lived for eight years.

She says she is not in ar­rears but be­lieves the land­lords want the prop­erty back.

But the mum of two teenage chil­dren fears her fam­ily could be left home­less as she has not been able to get help from Ashford Bor­ough Coun­cil hous­ing of­fi­cers. She re­ceives hous­ing ben­e­fits and in­come sup­port and is a full-time carer for her sis­ter.

But she has been ad­vised by oth­ers not to fill in a home­less ap­pli­ca­tion form un­til bailiffs are at her door and is now wor­ried she has left it too late.

She said: “I haven’t filled in a home­less ap­pli­ca­tion form un­til six days be­fore the end of the Sec- tion 21 no­tice [the first step in the evic­tion process] from the land­lord. I don’t know if I’ve made my­self po­ten­tially home­less.

“The coun­cil have not been great. You get told one thing, then you get told some­thing else.

“I don’t know what the right an­swer is. I don’t know where we are, and when you have got kids in­volved it’s not right.”

She has been sup­ported by Mr Bo­hill, who was made aware of her case via a friend con­tact­ing him on Face­book.

Mr Bo­hill, who lives in Ashford, said: “I’ve dealt with hun­dreds of evic­tions and about a dozen stand out. This can­not be a more gen­uine prob­lem. Mrs Lan­caster has never been in ar­rears, she has done noth­ing wrong, and is try­ing to do the right thing.

“Some ten­ants I have seen have gone through hell and back be­fore they are re­housed by coun­cils. The com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor in all of them is the coun­cils’ un­help­ful at­ti­tudes.

“This is a case of gen­uine hard­ship. She has hit the na­tion­wide prob­lem that land­lords and their agents are re­luc­tant to take on peo­ple with ben­e­fits.”

In a state­ment, Ashford coun­cil said: “We are in touch with Mrs Lan­caster and three of our hous­ing of­fi­cers have spo­ken to her to try and re­solve her sit­u­a­tion and sub­se­quently of­fer her sup­port.

“We recog­nise that it’s a trau­matic time for any­one who is placed in such a po­si­tion and ob­vi­ously han­dle all cases with sen­si­tiv­ity.”

TV bailiff Paul Bo­hill is sup­port­ing tenant Marie Lan­caster, who is fac­ing evic­tion from a pri­vate land­lord

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