Mother’s death means son faces losing home

A GRIEVING son who faces being turfed out of his home just weeks after the death of his mother has accused Berwick Borough Housing of acting ‘inconsiderately’.

Jamie Robertson, a former Berwickshire High School pupil, has been told he must leave the house he shared with his mum, Eileen, because he is not allowed to take on the tenancy.

To make matters worse, the 23 year-old of Farne Road, Spittal, received the news as he was preparing for his mum’s funeral.

“I couldn’t believe it when a letter came through the post on the same day as my mum’s funeral, which basically told me I was being evicted,” said Jamie. “How could they be so heartless? It’s just totally inconsiderate for them to act in such a way.”

His mum, a former fraud investigator, was diagnosed with bone cancer two years ago and then, just six months ago, was told the illness was terminal.

In October, she asked Berwick Borough Housing to change the name on the tenancy to that of Jamie and his younger brother Daniel, 22, but the housing association told her it was not practice to have offspring as joint tenants due to the shortage of family accommodation and high demand for three bedroom homes.

Eileen, who lived in Chirnside before moving to Berwick, passed away on January 5, aged 47, but a letter sent the day before has angered Jamie because he thinks it shows the housing association was already planning to evict him.

The letter explains that demand will be high for a three bedroom family house and it would not be appropriate to allow a single male to remain living in the property. It goes on to say that staff would endeavour to work with Jamie to find a one bedroomed property.

But Jamie said: “My mum wasn’t even dead but it showed me they were already preparing to evict me.”

Then, on January 11 - the day of his mum’s funeral in Duns- he received another letter from Berwick Borough Housing which expresses condolences at the sad loss of his mother but rejects Jamie’s offer of four weeks’ rent for the property because he was not the tenant.

“This has been my home for the past seven years and I now share it with my girlfriend, Kelly,” he explained. “It’s also Daniel’s home.

“We’ve also done a lot of work on the house and garden over the past couple of years,” he added. “It’s all been decorated and the garden refurbished which cost £2,500 and yet it looks like we might lose it.

“The worst bit of all though is that one of my mum’s dying wishes was for her ashes to be spread in the garden and a bench put in place and it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to do that.”

“It’s been a very difficult couple of years and I’m on anti-depressants which means I’m not able to do much in the way of work,” he explained. “I’m just trying to keep my family together. As far as I’m concerned, Berwick Borough Housing are just trying to wreck it.”

Dawn Keightley, Four Housing Group’s director of operations said: “Cases like this, where an individual wishes to stay put following the death of a family member, are extremely sensitive. Similarly, Four Housing Group has a duty to ensure that it balances the wishes of the individual with the needs of the wider social housing community.

“In these circumstances, where an individual is required to move into accommodation more appropriate for a single occupier, it is so a family may benefit from the larger property.

“Decisions like these are not taken lightly, but there are more people needing to be housed than the supply of housing stock available. All social housing providers are under considerable Government scrutiny to avoid under occupancy. This is particularly true for family accommodation where there is high demand.

“We understand and genuinely empathise with Mr Robertson that this is a difficult time for him. Our staff are therefore working hard to ensure his housing needs are met and that his move goes as smoothly as possible.”