Spared from eviction, the Indian couple under threat of being forced out of their £25,000 mobile home at Littleport
PUBLISHED: 18:24 15 January 2020
An Indian couple have been spared eviction from their £25,000 mobile home at Littleport after a whirlwind 48 hour effort led by East Cambridgeshire District Council.
Council leader Anna Bailey pushed the 'go' button to re-trigger efforts by East Cambs after the Ely Standard turned the spotlight on their plight.
Dr Hasna Kudilatt - a finalist in the 2018 Ely Heroes awards - and her husband and nine month old baby had been told they would be evicted at the end of the month.
When I visited Dr Hasna on Sunday she was on the brink of despair but within two days the council had pulled together legal and environmental officers to hammer out an arrangement to secure their future on the site.
It brought to an end a running battle with the site owners, Murphys Residential Park Homes Ltd, who before Christmas had posted an eviction notice on the couple's home.
Manager Karl Neville and Tommy Murphy, the owner's son, even took a selfie of them sticking the eviction notice on the caravan and sending it to the Kudilatts.
Throughout December there had been a dispute between the Kudilatts and the site managers over whether appliances in their home had caused a number of power cuts. Dr Kudilatt said the site owners blamed them but she said an independent electrician she bought in confirmed their home was safe and not at fault.
The eviction notice had warned Dr Kudilatt -a physics research assistant at Cambridge University - and her husband their home would be removed within a month and they would be invoiced £1,200 for doing so.
"I was crying when they served an eviction notice," she said.
Urgent intervention on Monday by East Cambridgeshire District Council - less than 18 hours after I had visited their home and tweeted an outline of the story - resulted in the eviction notice being withdrawn.
And on Tuesday the council convened a meeting at which the Kudilatts were offered an agreement that ensures they can remain. The couple had bought the mobile home and, after a rent free period of a year, were paying the agreed £250 a month ground rent. That will now continue for at least the next three years.
Her husband Shahid said: "It's only because of you they finally have informed us officially they are going to do a new contract. All eviction processes stopped with immediate effect."
And he added: "You have magic hands with blessed fingers".
Angela Parmenter, housing and community safety manager of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said they were "very concerned" when they heard about the plight of the Kudilatts before Christmas.
"We took immediate action to work with them to resolve the issues. This has been a joint approach between departments to achieve an outcome in an effective and accelerated manner."
She said: "The environmental health team assisted with the original issue of loss of electricity and used their enforcement powers to reinstate the electricity at the site.
"Temporary accommodation was also offered by the housing team at this point; however, this was refused by the family.
"The housing team have also been working as a mediator between the landlord and Mr and Mrs Kudilatt. "
She said the council facilitated the meeting on Tuesday that discussed a fixed-tenancy for the family to help secure their home. The council provided legal advice.
Ms Parmenter added: "As a district council, we will not tolerate illegal evictions or harassment towards tenants and will deal with such matters through the courts if necessary.
"We are hopeful that Tuesday's discussion with the landlord will prove informative and educational for all his tenants and we will come to an amicable resolution.
"This proves the council's joined up working, ethics and prevention
The threat of eviction, in which the Kudilatts had been told would be carried out at 3pm on January 28, has now been removed. Dr Kudilatt said they had also been told they would have had to pay £1,200 for the mobile home to removed.
Cambridgeshire Human Rights and Equality Support Service wrote to site manager Karl Neville on January 9 telling him that without a court order any move against the couple would breach the Mobile Homes Act 2013.
They also warned the Kudilatts feared they were being evicted "because they are the only residents of Indian origin. If that is true then it is against the Equality Act 2010".
CAB also stepped in, advising the site owners that they should have provided the Kudilatts with a written statement about their rights when the moved in. And even without this there were "implied rights" that protected them, CAB said.
The CAB warned that threatening the couple's "quiet enjoyment of their home by cutting off their electricity" and telling them their mobile home was too old for the site and having unsafe electrical installations and issuing eviction notices could be construed as harassment.
Repeated efforts to contact Murphys Residential Park Homes Ltd have been unsuccessful.