Mum could lose 'only real home she's ever known' due to little known rule

Anna Martin faces losing her home in Kirkby where she cared for her late mum
Anna Martin faces losing her home in Kirkby where she cared for her late mum -Credit:Andrew Teebay Liverpool Echo

A grieving mum faces homelessness due to a little known housing rule which has her fearing for her family's security.

Seven weeks ago, Anna Martin's mum died of bowel cancer just a day after her 79th birthday. Veronica Martin died in the living room of the home where she raised her children and that she shared with her daughter, Anna and her grandson.

Just a few days before her mum's funeral, Anna was informed by Livv Housing she would have to move out and find somewhere else to live because she was ineligible to 'succeed' the tenancy. As a result, Anna said she is unable to grieve for her mum because of the stress and uncertainty.

READ MORE: Dad found himself in court after chasing off home invader

READ MORE: £10* unlimited day travel on Northern trains only with your ECHO

Anna is sitting in her mum's favourite armchair in a living room infused with family memories including a large, framed photograph of her mum on a side table. Just below are various presents gifted to Veronica on her birthday - all untouched because she was too ill to open them. They serve as a poignant reminder of how much she was loved and how deeply her loss is felt.

The Martin family have always lived close to each other. Before moving in with her mum, Anna lived around the corner in St Peter's Close with her two boys and was grateful to be able to visit her mum's for emotional support.

In 2018, the accumulated stress of maintaining a home as a single parent became overwhelming and she was forced to give up the tenancy and moved in with her mum. At the time, Veronica was in good health but the last twelve months saw her health deteriorate - accelerated by a fall which left her house-bound.

Sadly, Veronica was diagnosed with bowel cancer and passed away in March of this year. The story is a harrowing one for Anna to tell as she was in the room with her mum when she died. She said: "Every family member we've lost, has died in this house.

"There's been birthdays, anniversaries, births and deaths - lots of happy memories and some not so happy.

Anna sitting with photo of her late mum
Anna sitting with photo of her late mum -Credit:Andrew Teebay Liverpool Echo

"The worry about losing our home means we can't begin to grieve. We all feel numb. We can't take anything in."

As her mum's carer and having lived in the house for six years with her son, Anna assumed she would be able to take on the tenancy at Tudor View in Kirkby. However, just a few days after her mum's death, Anna was made aware of the issue of 'succession rights' and was told she would have to find somewhere else to live.

Anna said: "I knew nothing about 'succession rights' until after mum died. We never thought about her dying and were only focused on our life together.

“When you’ve had a family in a home for so many years, why would you want to re-let it when we need a home.”

Anna's sister, Tracy lives a minute's walk away and they both rely on each other for support - especially now. Tracy is having sleepless nights worrying about her sister's future and how they will maintain their close relationship.

An aggravating factor in Anna's case is the state of her health. She is due to undergo major surgery this year and has been referred for a full hysterectomy - doctors have advised she will also lose her appendix. The recovery time for these surgeries is three months and Anna is concerned about where she will be able to start her recovery. The uncertainty means she may have to postpone the operation and put her health in further jeopardy.

According to Shelter's website, succession means the right to take over a tenancy (or inherit it) when the tenant dies. The tenancy must be the successor's main home when the relative dies and they must have lived with the tenant for at least one year.

However, one of the technicalities with succession rights is they can only be applied once. This can be problematic as there are numerous scenarios where the spirit of the rule is out of sync with the application of the rule.

Herein lies Anna's problem because succession rights were given to her brother, John in 2011 but he died in 2014. Even though Veronica died this year and no succession to Tudor View had actually been passed on, the property no longer has succession rights.

Furthermore, this technical exclusion means Anna will be asked to leave the property and apply to the housing register for a social rented tenancy, while Tudor View is cleared and offered up to applicants on the same housing register.

Anna said the housing officer at Livv Housing has been kind and is working with the family to find a solution. Unfortunately, Livv Housing maintains it is just following the succession policy adopted by the vast majority of social housing providers.

Although the case is still under consideration, Anna is not entitled to succeed the property and has been told she can only stay until May 20.

A spokesperson for Livv Housing said: “We are truly sympathetic to Ms Martin’s situation and sorry for the recent loss of her mother.

"Housing legislation outlines that we are only able to grant the right to succession for a secure tenancy once, and in this instance, the tenancy had already passed to Ms Martin’s brother.

"We have a responsibility to address the significant demand for social housing throughout the borough, and ensure customers are supported with homes that are appropriate for their needs. We’re continuing to liaise with the family to provide housing advice and assistance.”

There are calls within the housing sector for this legislation to be amended and allow for an expansion to statutory succession rights. Furthermore, some housing providers have adopted a 'discretionary' succession rights policy in which the organisation can grant approval based on the circumstances of each case.

Livv Housing has a similar policy which states: "A discretionary succession is where the person requesting to succeed to the tenancy was left in the property on the death of the tenant but has no statutory or contractual right to succeed.

"They are asking us to exercise our discretion to let them stay as a tenant: we are under no obligation to exercise that discretion."

For the sake of her physical and mental health, Anna hopes such an exception will be made before May 20 when she faces leaving the only real home she's ever known.

As we say our goodbyes to Anna, she tells us why she was motivated to call us and start her campaign. She said: "My mum always said 'go to the paper, no one likes bad publicity' and that's why I'm sharing our story."

Anna and her family have started a petition in the hopes of gaining support for their campaign to stay in the family home. You can offer your support by visiting the website HERE.

Don't miss the biggest and breaking stories by signing up to the Echo Daily newsletter here