A Ramsgate pensioner says she has been living in her van for the last three weeks after her landlord raised her rent by 60% and then served a ‘no fault’ eviction.
Lyn Pearman, 66, had moved to her Ramsgate flat in April 2021 but last year the property was sold and the new owners eventually raised her rent from £433 to £700 per month.
Initially both Lyn- and her neighbour whose rent also went up to £700 – were given six month contracts but when these ended the new rates were introduced.
Lyn, who had been a personal trainer before becoming a carer for her mum, says she gained a discretionary payment from the council to help her cover the rent as the housing benefit maximum she can claim is £473.
But after asking for repairs and maintenance to be carried out in light of the rent increase Lyn says she was issued the section 21 notice to leave.
Lyn, who recently completed a photography degree at Canterbury Christ Church University, said: “I sold all my belongings in the flat and bought an old Gatwick minibus that has been converted to a camper.
“The council said they would give me emergency accommodation but that could be a room anywhere in Kent. To be honest I’d rather live in the van.”
Managing ‘van life’
At first Lyn sofa-surfed due to the bitter weather but for the last three weeks she has been living in the van and at night parks at various residential locations when it is late and then leaves early in the morning.
The mum-of-two said: “I don’t park outside people’s houses but make sure it is a residential area and park up by a wall or something and then I leave early in the morning as I don’t want to p**** people off. Obviously it is light later now so I have to wait longer before I can park.”
Lyn has joined a gym for £15.99 per month so she can shower and has been doing her washing at a friend’s house but says she will need to find a launderette.
Cooking is an issue because although she has leisure batteries and solar panels on the van roof, it is only enough power for a camping ring. There is a microwave but that can only be used if on a camping site with a proper electric hook up.
Lyn said: “I’m not eating very well. I can’t really cook in the van, well I can’t really cook anyway to be honest. The fridge also drains the battery so I have to throw stuff out. It is actually cheaper to eat out.
“It is quite hard. You can only just stand up in the van and really the facilities are for weekends away but there is nothing for me to rent. Around 30 people went for my old flat and that is now let at £750pm.I don’t know how I would manage rent like that and gas and electric so even though it is hard in the van, at least I am not lining someone else’s pockets.”
Lyn says she had always fancied trying ‘van life’ and has now found herself thrown into it.
She has taken to Tik Tok to chart her journey, introducing herself to followers as “a 66-year-old, lesbian pensioner living in a van.’
To her surprise she has become a bit of a sensation.
Writing under the handle of Free Spirit @offtotravel she started with 11 followers but one video went viral with 650,000 views and she now has 38,000 people watching her videos.
She said: “People have been so lovely. I have to let them know when I have parked at night and then again in the morning. They want to know about my day.
“There are people from New Zealand, Canada, Australia, all over the world. Many say they are actually only a pay cheque away from being in the same situation.
“Some have tried to give me money but I have said that isn’t why I am on there and there are lots of people who need help more than I do, I just want to log my journey.”
Lyn says she also seems to have gained a girlfriend and become something of an agony aunt!
She said: “I got asked for financial advice but obviously I’m the wrong person for that, I’m a pensioner living in a van!”
Although Lyn batted away suggestions from followers of setting up a fundraising page, her son Shane has launched a GoFundMe to help his mum with repairs and servicing on the van – which has done some 392,000 miles – and to buy things like fuel, food and heaters to make the vehicle more habitable.
The appeal has raised just over £3,000 so far.
Lyn said: “I am amazed at people’s generosity.”
Find Lyn on Tik Tok at: https://www.tiktok.com/@offtotravel?lang=en
Find the fundraiser here
Government figures reveal the number of households living in privately rented homes in England who were evicted by bailiffs as a result of Section 21 proceedings has increased by 143% in a year (from 792 households between Oct and Dec 2021 and 1,924 between Oct and Dec 2022).
The annual increase is largely due to the lifting of the eviction ban on 31 May 2021 and the subsequent backlog in the courts.
It was announced in the Queen’s Speech in May 2022 that the government is committed to bringing forward legislation to abolish Section 21 during the 2022/23 parliamentary session, which will end in April or May 2023.
There’s a divide in opinion between organisations advocating on behalf of tenants and those advocating on behalf of private landlords.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, described the white paper as “a game-changer” for private renters but The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) argues a reformed and improved court system which has bedded-in, together with improvements to the grounds for possession, should be introduced before section 21 is amended or abolished.
Anyone who is worried about losing their home can contact Shelter for free and expert advice by visiting www.shelter.org.uk/get_help.
Local Housing Allowance
The Local Housing Allowance sets the maximum amount a council will pay in housing benefit for a private rental but this has been fixed by government since 2020 and despite Universal Credit and other benefits going up in line with inflation in April this is not the case for LHA.
Currently the LHA rates for Thanet are per month:
Shared accommodation £299.17
1 bedroom £473.72
2 bedrooms £648.22
3 bedrooms £797.81
4 bedrooms £947.40
But these amounts do not reach the rates being asked for in the private rental sector. A search of rentals recently shows the cheapest rooms for rent at £90-£100, leaving a £100 per month shortfall.
For a one-bed home the cheapest flat listing was £595 per month, leaving a £120 shortfall’ the cheapest 2-bed home listing was at Arlington House for £575, coming under the LHA rate, but the majority of properties were £695 and above.
At the end of 2022, Thanet District Council had more than 600 active ‘homelessness cases’, including those who were homeless, at risk of homelessness and being supported by rough sleeping services, or awaiting a council decision on whether to house them.
Can I ask which part of the UK Lyn moved from, or has she permanently lived and worked -after leaving full time education- in Thanet, all of her life. ?
Mortgage interest rates have increased substantially over the past few months why should the landlord be expected to carry the burden of the increase. Councils are restricted to the amount of assistance they can offer. I agree Lyn has cut her cloth to suit her means however, I am sure a someone who is homeless and sleeps on a bench would love to be able to spend £15.99pm rather live on the handouts of strangers.
She’s local and spends her pension on the gym membership. She isn’t asking anyone to feel sorry for her, she is charting what her experience is using the video diary
Thank you Kathy for the explanation.
I certainly didn’t mean to be negative,
And when the landlord has paid off the mortgage, and is no longer dishing out £100s every month to the building society, will he pass on that huge saving to his tenant?
You can get about 3% for money on deposit in a bank, so if you have a 200k property a return of 6k on its value is not unreasonable , then you have recompense for the other costs of maintaining , insuring, compliance, time to run the business.
I’ve tenants whose rents have only increased 25% in 17 years, unlike social housing their rents are not subsidised by grants from central government to me the landlord, neither do social housing providers pay tax, private landlords are usually paying for their own pension, council employees have theirs covered by the council tax payer. Ask the government to refund the taxes i pay to my tenants and see what their rents would then be.
There are huge extra costs as a result of grenfell and lakanal , where the social provider ignored legislation they should have complied with, if the private sprented sector killed as many tenants as the social sector there’d be calls for landlords ro be hung drawn and quartered , but silence when it comes to the social sector.
By all means have fair honest comparisons.
There is rather sick irony Phyllis, that the article was next to one about a fire at a derelict house! The UK is spiralling down to becoming a 3rd world country, after 13 years of Tory rule, duuurh!
Folk who take out buy to let mortgages and expect their tenants to buy their place for them are both stupid and despicable. I have really lost patience with these,arrogant people.
Paul what makes it worse is for us tax payers to pay their mortgage for them with Housing Benefit paid to their tenants!
You realise they way you think is so backwards. Tenants are litterally paying another persons mortgage. Landlords get their mortgage paid for, for doing very little work and just “having money or the ability to borrow money” and at the end get a free house.
I know it’s not all plain sailing but many own masses of houses, use agents and do very little themselves whilst amassing person wealth and you want me to feel sorry for them and not the poor tenant?
That attitude towards the rich and the poor is the number one reason this country is in a mess and financially struggling compared to other “rich” nations.
Have a word with yourself man.
Such a stupid outlook… “which town is this person from” you people are all the same. First “Europe” was too much to be involved in and it’s foriegners, and DFLs, soon you’ll want only people from your street and we will hate everyone but people in our own house.
A Landlord makes an investment on a house.which.he subsequently rents out at an agreed rent probably with regular increases as the tenancy endures. He will always own the house until.he sells it. His tenant has nothing at the end of maybe a long tenancy. So why should the tenant pay the Landlords mortgage interest. The rent has not suddenly become less than needed .Increases should be based on rising costs of living and associated housing costs.Any investment is a risk. Maybe I am wrong but when rates go down when the bubble bursts again would landlords put.the rents down. I think not.As food prices we are told will not rise much higher we envisage no price cuts in food or rent. There was a term applied years ago for such evictions and ridiculous rents in was called Rachmanism I believe.
Rachman did quite the opposite.
He took advantage of the situation created by driving out law abiding landlords. He then charged lower rents by cramming in lots of desperate tenants into the same space previously occupied.
Those who fail from history are doomed to repeat it.
someone else holding thier hand out.
It’s a pity you can’t read!
It amazes me that a British person has to live like this,
As a British person I’m not. There are many many people who are and will have to live this way simply because the costs of living are so huge compared to wages for far too many
Good luck to you. Go to wm camping at herne . Amazing what they sell there to make your life comfortable.
Thousands of houses are being built around East Kent right now. But none of them are affordable for someone in this situation. (For that matter, none of them will be available for asylum seekers either). They are built for people who already have a home but are selling and moving, so may be able to pay the price.
Other people are excluded. Few Council homes are being built.
Sometimes, a Council will give Planning permission to a building company to build all over the green belt, but on the agreement that they include a certain percentage of “affordable” homes (however that is defined). That way,the councillors can satisfy their consciences that they are providing homes for a range of residents, including those on lower incomes.
But, almost inevitably, at a later stage , the developers will approach the Planning Dept. to explain that they just can’t provide the cheaper homes. “Can’t afford it “etc.
Often, they will just get a decision from staff in the Planning Dept.,not referring back to the councillors. And their decision will be to agree to drop the “affordable homes”.
A similar process occurs with the apparent effort to protect the environment when houses or commercial buildings are planned. It’s amazing to see the impressive designs of wildlife ponds, native-species hedgerows, clumps of trees etc, with displaced species being rehomed in cosy new habitats.
But all the developer has to do is go back to the Planning Dept. AFTER permission is granted, to get the wildlife provisions dropped.
Neither people nor wildlife get a fair deal out of the Planning system. Asylum seekers have no affect whatsoever.
Government policy DOES.
Well said! The main crime was initiated by the Tories in the 80’s by selling off hard won council housing and not reinvesting in replacing stock. A deliberate ploy to maintain the wealth of the wealthy and feck everyone else’s luck.
There is no political commitment to change this inhumanity from any political party.
as a councillor my conscience is NOT satisfied by allowing developers to build so-called ‘affordable’ homes – too many end up as unaffordable private rents (of which this article is a good example) – we need a change at national level to allow councils to build enough properties to meet the needs of the local population
surprisingly about 2/3 of households are owner occupiers nationally, and of the third of households that are in rented accommodation about half are social housing (which includes Housing Associations) and half are private rents
Today in this country of ours .MONEY is more important than people. The PM and his wife are worth 780 million. Wrong person at the top . Don’t live in the real world
In the past 20 years, social housing providers have been responsible for 80% of all evictions. The initial rent in the article was well below the local market rents, the old landlord obviously wanted to leave the rented sector and sold the new owner increased rents, the tenant would have been served a notice and would have hadnthe right to dispute the increase and go to tribunal if necessary. If the tenant had records of the requests she made for repairs and maintenance , the section 21 she was served would have been invalid as it’d likely have been seem as a “retaliatory eviction”.
The shortage of available rented accomodation is a not unexpected result of the endless anti landlord legislation and rhetoric, an ever increasing population , changes to to taxation incentivises moving over to short term holiday lets (airbnb). LHA allowance has also been frozen since 2020 which effectively means those on benefits cannot afford local rents and so landlords won’t offer them tenancies. The affordability being made worse by current energy costs etc.
And it’ll only get worse unless there’s a change of tack.
We need to get back to the council housing situation we had before Thatcher brought in the right to buy council housing. She only brought it in because she wanted to win votes.
And labour let it carry on . Look at the cost of newbuild council housing, the rents of older stock are only possible because it has been long paid for and has had grant funding from central government ( the decent homes standard cost over 40 billion, to improve council housing that had fallen into disrepair because rents weren’t high enough to even maintian/ improve them properly)
TDC has flats it rents for about 350 pcm , yet the service charges and maintenance and office costs mean that the rent doesn’t cover the expenses. So the council has its hand out for ever more subsidies.
An inevitable result of driving out landlords.
Landlords are parasites, Bernie, dearest.
Get rid of private landlords by nationalising all houses.
Oh yes it can!
And where is the money going to come from,to purchase those houses?Or do you intend seizing them?
Eric, the post war Labour government used a loan to build millions of council houses, which was paid off by the time Thatcher came to power I believe! No, use Housing Benefit, and another loan, to buy out landlords, and hand them over to Housing Associations to run!
What a shock! Preventable issue created by greedy landlords! The avaris of the majority of them is untold.. it’s never good enough to make a bit of money.. it has to be squeezing every last penny.
I could show you invoices and charges raised by thanet district council, that to any normal person would be considered as opportunistic and error ridden to the extreme , amazingly always in the councils favour. They are just as bad.
Mary Shepherd did it first – and Alan Bennett wrote the story . . .
This is what we get from a Conservative government that’s why I’m voting Conservative locally to support Manston Airport reopening but voting Labour to win the next election, I’m a floating voter not a sheep.
No your not Bill, your a know nothing Pillock get help!
you’re a doughnut, Bill. Floating like that ensures Tory safe seats…it also shows you don’t really mind corruption, kleptocracy and half the cabinet being “owned” by Russian security services…
Landlords step in to provide the service councils are unwilling to. If a landlord wishes to leave the market, for example – retirement, equity release etc, they have to issue an S21.
Legislation does not care whether a landlord is good or bad, since tackling antisocial tenants through the courts will be met with enormous cost, time and stress, exposing the best option as a S21.
I can see a landlord exodus coming; homelessness, mental illness, and petty crime, all increasing.
The UK has an expanding population but unfortunately with the kinds of people who are going to be dependent on the state whether it’s by way of poor career choices, frivolous behaviour, irresponsible upbringing, or systemic apathy.
No government can afford broken people.
Another one that claims landlords are some sort of charity.
Unfortunately most are profiteering, greedy, lacking in self awareness and living in a bubble.
If you own one house to rent out – more power to you. Whilst personally I would rather people invested their money elsewhere and the housing market was more a one house per, person, couple, family situation, that ships sailed.
Claiming that landlords that own waves of houses are doing a social good deed, is ridiculous and I think you know that.
Amassing personal wealth is why you buy a house to rent. Simple.
Doing so for a pension/nest egg is understandable but you have to at some point realise someone else is paying for a house for you. That’s a fact.
How is social housing paid for? By the tenant and the subsidies from the taxpayer ( in terms of the original build cost, subsequent maintenance, tax advantages etc etc) it is no cheaper and in many cases more expensive than the private rented sector when all is taken into account. It’s certainly much safer in the rented sector and tenant satisfaction surveys consistently put the private sector in the lead. How many times have you heard of tenants laying dead in their flats for considerable amounts of time before beingdiscovered?
Dogmatic opinion revolving around political ideology too often gets in the way of objective comparison.
What are “broken people”?
Most the people that post stupid stuff here, this guy, RL, Peter checkatrade or whatever his name is….
Those that relish the suffering of others and applaud the greed that’s destroying our communities.
A very accurate definition by “Not Impressed”, in my opinion.
Airbnb also takes up a lot of properties. Also there are 250,000 empty homes in the UK that have been left empty for over a year. They should go to the homeless.
I consider someone broken if they’ve eschewed positive life chances offered to them. Chances that would make them a net contributor to society as a whole. They may have rejected these chances in favour of vice, poor decision making and crime; the ability to procure a comfy benefit to their lifestyles without responsibility to themselves or others.
I’m guessing that my analysis isn’t good enough for you, but I’m here all day…
I remember the days of TDC trying to get landlords to house people that were staying in the infamous “ Leslie Hotel”, i met a couple of them before deciding it wasn’t for me. Meeting such people should be part of lifes education, it makes many of the trite comments people make look utterly daft. Society has created a situation that is going to be hard to deal with and seemingly has decided to keep digging ever faster.
I take that that’s a “no’.
What huge extra costs have incurred as a consequence of Grenfell and so on?
Cost of insurance , fire safety audits and assessments, new rules on fire doors, compartmentation.
Have a read of this , it sets out the cause and spread of the fire and the buildings failings, ( most notably the lack of a wet rider that the building should have had from the day it was built, the absence of which mean the fire service had little chance of tackling the blaze effectively, similarly the failure of the “firemans lift” and smoke vents).
Should be “wet riser”
As someone who was raised in council housing and it is one of the busiest, over populated area. The council keep telling me, it’s unaffordable yet they subsidies half the people here. Another fraction are subsidised by their rich friends and the rest own everything!
My friend recently purchased a property from a landlord. He got his money back for what he payed for it. Thanet council paid the rent for 12 years. A nice earner and he still owns 9 flats in the block.
I was schooled in & lived in Thanet for most on my life. Not worked in Thanet much because of the shocking wages on offer here. The higher wages I’ve earned have incurred higher taxes that I’ve had to pay. I now own two houses. Both brought & paid for by hard work. Neither inherited or brought cheaply from the council. One of them has been rented out for a number of years ( tax paid on every penny earned from the rental income). The plan is to rent the second one out & go traveling long term in a motorhome. I guess this makes me some kind of next level evil!
No, it just makes you an arrogant braggart.