Council evict devastated man from family home because after dad and brother died

A grief-stricken council house tenant who lost his father and brother is now on the brink of losing his lifelong home.

Darren Evans, 51, is afraid that his mental health will deteriorate if he is forced to leave his Cardiff home.

Until recently, Darren shared the semi-detached three-bedroom property with his brother and father, both named David. Darren’s brother died suddenly in July 2021 at the age of 53, and in the November he lost his father, aged 77.

Shortly afterwards, Cardiff Council informed Darren that the house is too big for his needs and he will be rehoused in a one-bedroom property, Wales Online reports.

Darren has severe learning difficulties which mean that he is unable to read or write. He has been the sole tenant of the home since losing his father and brother, however family members have been taking turns to stay with him to make sure that he has the support he needs – which will no longer be possible if he is moved to a one-bedroom home, said his niece Amy Lesauteur.

The two deaths have left Darren crippled by both anxiety and depression. He said: “I just feel suicidal and depressed all the time. I won’t be able to carry on if I have to move.”

His parents moved into the home 55 years ago, registering the tenancy in his mother Barbara’s name. Shortly before her death in 1994, the tenancy was succeeded by the elder David. Rules only allow one succession per tenancy, and although the Welsh Government passed a law in 2016 which will potentially allow two, the change is not coming into force until this December.

Darren Evans

Cardiff Council has told Wales Online that even if the law was already in place, it would still be able to apply for an eviction in cases where a home is too big for a tenant’s needs.

Amy, 29, said: “My uncle David passed away suddenly from sepsis while in the house. He literally went to bed and he was found the next day. The whole family are still so shocked nearly a year on. It’s had a massive impact on all of us. My grampy David had COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] and when my uncle passed away he got worse. He didn’t want to take his oxygen, it was like he’d given up.

“It was the beginning of January this year that Darren got a letter from the council. They have been so bad with us. The housing manager came out and said, ‘You aren’t keeping the house, it’s as simple as that.’

“She initially said he would be given a two-bedroom house with a drive. Then we had a phone call from her last week saying there was ‘good news’. He was offered a one-bedroom flat in one of the worst estates in Ely, Spinney Close. It has a big drug issue. He was told, ‘You have to view it on Monday and if you don’t, you’re not going to be offered any property.’ So he went there and he was waiting outside the front door for an hour and half but no one turned up. We haven’t heard from the housing manager since, there’s been no explanation.”

Darren Evans may lose his home
Darren Evans may lose his home

The council believes there was a misunderstanding over the appointment. Its spokeswoman told Wales Online that the property concerned is not ready and so a viewing would not yet have been offered.

Amy, who has organised a petition with 158 signatures against the eviction, continued: “We’ve been given no date for when he has to leave, no guidance on that. The lady in the local community hub said the council has the discretion to let Darren keep the house because of his mental health, but the housing manager has said no. It’s so stressful not knowing what’s going to happen.

“Darren’s neighbours have lived here as long as him. They are like family, they cook for him and look after him. He needs that kind of support. They’ve written letters to the council saying what a big part of their lives he is.”

In recent months Wales Online has spoken to several people in Wales told they must leave their homes while grieving a loved one’s death as rules only allow one tenancy succession. The Welsh Government’s 2016 law potentially allowing two successions per tenancy was delayed until this summer “mainly because of the pandemic”, then pushed back again until this December.

A council spokesperson said: “The law on tenancy succession is clear and currently allows only one succession to take place, which has already occurred in this instance. There is very high demand for family-size accommodation across the city and as Mr Evans has been assessed as requiring a one-bedroom property, the three-bedroom house he’s currently in is too big for his needs.

“An offer of a one-bedroom property in Ely, an area near to Mr Evans’ support network, has been made but as the property is currently undergoing works, it is not available to view until August. We will consider any further evidence Mr Evans wishes to submit that would support the need for larger accommodation.

“The rules around succession will be changing under the Renting Homes Act, due to be implemented in December, and Mr Evans would have succession rights. However, due to the considerable demand for larger family homes, the changes would still allow the council to work with tenants living in properties too big for their needs to move to suitable, smaller accommodation. This will apply to cases from December 2022 onwards.”

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