Neighbours and friends of a family of four evicted from their home in Coldingham last week rallied round to help them move their belongings.
Self-employed gardener and single parent Steven Tait didn’t confide in them about the family’s financial situation until two days before the eviction was to take place and family, friends and neighbours tried desperately to get together enough money to put towards the rent arrears he owned Berwickshire Housing Association.
However, time was against them and sheriff officers and housing officers arrived at the family’s home in Priors Walk, Coldingham on Wednesday morning; locks were changed and the family evicted.
Mr Tait and his four children, aged 7, 10, 13, and 17 have lived there for ten years. The youngest three were at school while the eviction took place and are staying with their grandparent’s house in the village for now.
The eldest, an apprentice with Scottish Borders Council, is staying with friends and Steven was unsure where he and his two dogs would go.
A neighbour arrived to take the family cat under her wing, and left in tears at the situation the family had found themselves in.
Steven was in court just before Christmas when Berwickshire Housing Association applied for a Court Order to remove the family from the house because of rent arrears. He admits ignoring letters from the housing association and the court and despite the Court Order being granted he still didn’t believe BHA would evict the family.
It wasn’t until housing officers visited the house on Monday, January 5, to remind him he would have to be out by the Wednesday of that week that it became real.
Mr Tait is aggrieved that when he tried to plead his case in court, as soon as he said his eldest son was working he was not allowed to continue and the Court Order was granted.
“They wouldn’t even let me explain that he was an apprentice and earning next to nothing,” said Mr Tait.
BHA chief executive, Helen Forsyth, said: “BHA always regret when they have to take the ultimate sanction. This is the first time we have evicted a tenant for over three years.
“It is vital if a tenant is in arrears they work with us to repay that money. We recognise the challenges tenants are facing but if tenants refuse to work with us or refuse to pay rent we have no alternative.
“We hope other tenants who are struggling will come to us for help. We are very sympathetic to the challenge of managing on a low income but can’t help if tenants refuse to work with us.”