Mum and baby daughter face sofa-surfing due to struggle to find a home

Hollie and her daughter will be sofa-surfing from June 11

A mum-of-one faces sleeping on the floor of a relative’s house with her one-year-old daughter because she has been unable to secure a new home.

Hollie Tyrell, 19, says her age and being on housing benefit means she cannot even get to the viewing stage.

She said: “I’m having to put my stuff in a lock up and we are going to stay with a relative until I can find somewhere but will have to have a mattress on their living room floor because they don’t have the space for anything else.”

Hollie says she handed in her notice for her current flat in Cliftonville due to issues with the property. The circumstances are disputed by the landlord.

However, because she handed in her notice, when she leaves on June 11 Thanet council will deem her intentionally homeless.

It is not the first time Hollie has had to sofa surf. Following a relationship break up the teen was homeless in August 2021 and did not find a property until December 2022.

She said: “I started sofa surfing after moving out of my baby dad’s house when we broke up. The council was informed and I was put on the housing list. I had no help and ended up sofa surfing with my young daughter.

“In roughly November 2022 I was offered temporary accommodation in Maidstone but due to the support I need from family I refused and continued to sofa surf, with no help from the council.

“In December 2022 I was found a two-bedroom flat but unfortunately had problems.”

Hollie says she has been unable to get any help and property prices are beyond her reach.

She said: “Housing is over £800 for a small two bedroom and unfortunately most won’t accept a young non-working mum. I have done everything to get a home for us. I have been refused for properties because of age and income.”

One of the issues in Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates. LHA is used to work out the amount of housing benefit a person can claim but is based on the number of bedrooms they need and not how much the rent is.

Rates have not changed over the last three years and are currently per month:

Shared accommodation£299.17
1 bedroom£473.72
2 bedrooms£648.22
3 bedrooms£797.81
4 bedrooms£947.40

The LHA falls below most market rates with a search today (June 1) finding just one 2-bed property within that range (£575) and the next cheapest listing for £775pm.

The LHA problem

Last year Thanet council’s housing director Bob Porter highlighted the issue saying there were at that time 197 households in temporary accommodation, slightly down from a high point of over 200 but still at the highest rate for three years.

He said: “The spike follows issues related to covid, changing patterns of where people live and where they work, changing behaviour of landlords leaving the sector, either selling or moving into short term lets and cost of living issues and rent increases.

“In the budget announcements from government there were announcements about benefits increasing with the rate of inflation but what government hasn’t done is change the LHA rate and you would think that would be increased in line with inflation in the private rented sector but it hasn’t and that’s going to make it even more challenging.”

Homelessness charity Shelter says Local Housing Allowance (LHA) should be restored to cover at least the cheapest 30% (of local rents.

It also recommends LHA rates should be re-linked to the cost of renting in future years to keep them in line with at least the 30th percentile as the private rental market fluctuates and, in the longer term, says there needs to be investment in a new generation of social housing, with rents pegged to local income.


There are around 1,800 households on the housing waiting list in Thanet and the council receives around 1,000 homelessness applications each year.

A Thanet council spokesperson said: “We have successfully prevented 181 households from becoming homeless in 2023. Where emergency accommodation is needed, we aim to rehouse people in Thanet when there is suitable accommodation available. In some cases placement out of the district is unavoidable.

“We cannot comment on individual circumstances, but will always support people who require assistance, and liaise with other services and agencies to ensure anyone who is vulnerable gets the help they need.”

Get advice

Shelter England

Citizens Advice

Thanet council Housing Team 01843 577277

What is The Renters Reform Bill and will it work for tenants and landlords?


  1. Advice No 1:
    Do not make yourself intentionally homeless. You will not be able to get support from the Local Aurhority.

      • This was exactly the point of Brexit though wasn’t it- processing refugees in UK rather than sending them back to Calais. Whether you like it or not, 52% of the country voted for more refugees so it’s time to stop trying to subvert the will of the people and accept Brexit has happened.

        • Your wrong, only 72% of the electorate voted, probably because the rest didn’t know what to vote for, and only 52% voted to leave, so 52% of 72% is 37.4%, thats a minority of people who voted to leave, and what a fine mess they have made of it! No one had a clue what they voted for when they voted to leave, and now more people would like to re-join the EU, than think Brexit is a good idea!

          People fleeing war, persecution, and fear of torture and death, are refugees, and are being forced to leave their countries, none would prefer to have to pay exorbinate costs and risk their lives in an unseaworthy boat to get here. Its the Brexiteers that have caused this, because prior to our leaving the EU anyone seeking asylum had to do so in the first safe EU country they came to! They don’t have to do that now we have left the EU, which is why France is not obliged to keep asylum seekers.

          Where is the father of this poor child, and why is he not paying for the upkeep of his daughter? And why does this young women think I should pay from my taxes for her accommodation, and poor life style choices?

          • That’s how a democracy works. Everyone that has the right to vote also has the right not to vote. The results are calculated on the majority of the votes cast. I’ve only knowingly been given the chance to vote once. Can you point me in the right direction where I can find the proof that more people would like to rejoin the EU. Also as you appear to be good with arithmetic could you calculate the percentage of Thanet residents that actually voted for the winning side in our recent local election.

          • Apply that mathematical process to every referendum , election , vote and you’ll end up arguing just about every result is invalid. UKIP managed 16% of the votes cast in a general election but got just one seat, do you feel that was wrong? Or just cherry pick the stats that suit your argument?

          • Well Mr Brown, below, if you think we live in a democracy your a Pillock! Every government that has been elected since the war had more people vote against it, than for it! I am not a member of any political party, but I am a member of the Electoral Reform Society! All grown up countries have some form of Proportional Representation(PR) so that every vote is counted. Under the First Past the Pope system in Britain, most votes do not count, Duuurh! On average at least 25% of the electorate don’t vote in a General Election, they abstain!

          • Dumpton, I’m finding it hard to follow the change of subjects in your comments. I fully agree with you, there does need to be some kind of reform to our voting system when it comes to choosing a government (when there are multiple Parties to choose from). However, your first comment was about the referendum to leave or stay in the EU. This was a simple yes/no, leave/stay, in/out two way vote. Unless you are sergesting that everybody is compelled to vote (if so, surely that is opening a completely different can of worms). When all of the people that chose not to vote for whatever reason are discounted the majority, 52% make their choice. So, that is how a democracy works.
            On a side note. I don’t think personal insults are necessary, but it’s nice to see that you have expanded your vocabulary. Your usual go to insult is “moron”. For future reference if you feel the need to do it again. The correct insult should be “you’re a Pillock”.

  2. Yeah – I’ll just hand in my notice with nowhere to go and put the onus on whoever – Not a wise move I would say.

  3. How on earth, in this day and age, and in a so called civilised country, let a young woman and her baby ‘sofa surf’ Some people will say it’s the government, they may be right, but let’s see what a Labour council can do to elevate these problems. I wish her, and her baby all the best.

      • Paul, it is the government that decides the amount for LHA, not the local council, so that would be the Tories…….so no wonder they haven’t raised it for years. It is because they don’t care if it doesn’t affect them.

        • Boris Johnson said that women shouldn’t have children if they can’t afford them and that we need to plunge mothers and children into poverty to teach them a lesson. The great people of Thanet still voted Tory because they didn’t care about children in poverty, they only cared about blue passports made by the French and processing refugees in UK rather than sending refugees back to Calais.

          • Your an ignorant Pillock! The French are under no obligation to have asylum seekers returned to them, why should they? Its because Brexiteers made it possible for asylum seekers to come to the UK, thats why they come here, Duurh! If we rejoined the EU then asylum seekers could be returned to France, also get yourself a decent pseudonym, I suggest Pillock!

        • Of course you might also consider that LHA was introduced by Gordon Brown in an attempt to buy votes in the 2010 election, a daft piece of p9licy that all by itself drives up rents at the bottom of the market.Because LHA effectively sets the base level for rents increasing it raises it for just about everyone. It was a poor decision to hand in notice on her previous and if she had problems with the flat she should have gone to the councils private sector housing department. Having made herself homeless the council is going to be very reluctant to give her a property as it’d set a precedent and others would do the same.
          As mentioned finding another property in the prs is going to be hard, young tenants have a reputation for being problematic and being reliant on LHA means there will be likely nothing that is affordable to her.
          A difficult situation

  4. And maybe the council can view the property they lived in to see what condition it’s in and if it passes all the relevant laws on renting the flat.

  5. Maybe they could move in with one of the parents, if not get a Dingy & you’ll get a hotel in Folkstone.

  6. Perhaps thinking before getting herself pregnant at 16/17 yrs old might have helped. I’m sorry but I have little to zero sympathy for those who effectively self harm in this way.

    • Wow, such compassion and a big heart that you have Gru

      How about reopening workhouses and sending her there?

      With views like the ones you have, it maybe best if you keep them to yourself and your Tory mates.

    • Let’s pause a moment.
      Imagine a young woman is in love with a young man. They gaze into each others’ eyes and make vows of undying love with each other.
      They decide to live together in a little flat somewhere. They have a baby.
      Then it all goes pear-shaped. The young man decides he’s too young to be a father and so on. Life in the flat becomes intolerable, perhaps even violent and dangerous for the mother and child.
      She has little option than to move out; staying put is not an option.
      I’ve got a bit of sympathy.
      If I knew more of the circumstances (has the girl any family, is the boy paying anything towards the upkeep of the baby, has she no-one at all) then I might change my mind.

  7. have a couple of days at the concealed facility at manston , let them do the paperwork then you will be given everything , dont make the mistake of saying you were born here though. you have my sympathy a digusting state of affairs .

    • Reading some on the comments here makes me wonder, if something happens to you, or your families, would you think the same. Shame on you. A little compassion please, if you dont care about the mother, what about the baby, but maybe that’s their outlook on life. I’M ALRIGHT JACK AND F..K THE REST.

      • I think most people who work are generally annoyed that so many people continue to churn out children even though they don’t have jobs and then rely on the welfare state to house them and feed them.
        The welfare state was originally designed as a safety net to help the poorest who had nothing and fallen on hard times, but unfortunately many people on benefits seem to think that signing on is their job and abuse the system and take if for all they can while the ones of us that work, pay for their upkeep with our ever increasing tax burden.

        • You have absolutely no idea of this mother’s circumstances.
          I think your comments are quite out of order.

          • I was speaking in general Phyllis. Go round to any council estate and see for yourself how the welfare system is being abused.
            The majority of the population work and pay for our own accommodation via rent or mortgage, and if financially cripples us. Most of us pay for our children by working long hours and sacrificing time away from our families to pay our own way while others contribute nothing financially but expect everything paid for them.
            The welfare state was never designed to pay for people who have no desire to get into the workplace or pay their own way as is the case for an awful lot of people in todays society.

    • If council estates are now full of people who are in some way unfit for work, this is because the right to buy has still not been rescinded. Councils are therefore still barely able to afford to build any housing at all, let alone the big estates which they could build in the 1950s.

      • The problem is, the council estate are not full of people unable to work, I’ve worked & maintained council & housing association properties for over 30 years, there are some who can’t work due to disabilities etc but only about 20%, most are working either legally or illegally & just are happy doing this, the properties get maintained for free & the rent is cheaper than the private sector & if the council haven’t spent their government budget allowance by the end of the tax year they waste it by renewing kitchens & bathrooms etc etc that don’t need replacing, I’ve witnessed a flat in Hounslow have 3 new kitchens in 12 years, that can’t be a great way of spending council money (Tax payers money). This is why the councils have no money!!

  8. Years ago families pulled together, helping each other and we had communities.
    All gone now it seems
    Just profit and greed.

  9. It’s a sad world we live in now & it’s not looking like it’s going to be getting any better, don’t think it’s all profit & greed though, more like supply & demand, Thatcher sold off the council housing & didn’t build anymore with the money she got & they are still selling them off now including Thanet council, they even sold four flats off in the Clive Emson Auction a couple of months ago!! This country is now Third World compared to most.

    • I don’t know about tdc, but housing associations are quite happy to sell off property that needs refurbishing, it saves them the cost and effort to do so and they can use the money raised to borrow against and either build or buy brand new properties.
      TDC have sold off property in the past and turned a blind eye when it was converted without planning or building control , to provide accomodation that didn’t comply with space standards in any way, fire regs of sound itransmission. It was a leasehold flat and tdc are still the freeholder and must have allowed the landregistry drawing to have been changed for it to have been mortgaged ( property went from a 1 bed to a 2)

  10. Trouble is that there is nobody to set an example to us or the younger generation, the Government & the Councils are mostly corrupt & just looking after there own interests & pensions etc, so all people are doing now is looking after themselves & Fxck everyone else!! Cant say I blame them because thats the way I’ve started feeling recently.

  11. Always makes me chuckle. People that comment “I have no sympathy for people that self harm” and vilify someone like this.

    Yet the mega rich whole steal millions from tax payers by dodging and evading tax they have no problem with.

    They are the folk driving up your taxes not single mums.

    • I agree with Gru, self inflicted, had a choice, didn’t think of the consequences now wants help from everyone. It’s not the fault of any political party or council or relative or even the father, she could have said NO . Now we have a baby to consider that’s the real victim. She was stupid along with many other single mothers, perhaps if they got less help they would think first.

  12. The headline certainly doesn’t reflect the story. Possibly “Mother gives up home and moves in with family” would better describe what has happened. A follow up with the landlords view would be interesting.

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