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Barnstaple family of seven facing eviction before Christmas

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: December 20, 2012

By Will Topps

  • FAMILY: Claudia and David King with children Joanna, 11, Caitlin, 8, Jacob, 6, Tyler, 4, and Leah, 20 months. Picture: Mike Southon

  • DAMP: Claudia King reveals the conditions her family are currently living in. Picture: Mike Southon

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A FAMILY of seven are facing a Christmas without a home after being served an eviction notice this week, following a dispute with their landlord.

Claudia and David King and children, Joanna, 11, Caitlin, 8, Jacob, 6, Tyler, 4, and 20-month-old Leah, could be evicted from their damp-ridden home in Woodville, Barnstaple.

The news comes after their landlord failed to carry out work on the house, which the Kings claim he said he would do more than a year ago.

Mrs King explained how the family had first complained to landlord, David Evans, in 2011 about rising damp in the house, as well as other problems with the property.

Mrs King, who has lived in the house for six years, said: "We always paid our rent and kept the property in order unless something happened that was out of our hands and was the landlord's responsibility."

She said the first problems were with window handles, which would break off as the metal became brittle.

The Kings say the landlord repaired some of the handles ten months after the they first reported the problem, but the new handles were ill-fitting and soon broke.

"Once I went right through the glass and cut my hand badly," said Mrs King.

She said the damp and mould were the biggest problems in the house.

"The bedroom my two sons slept in was the worst," she said.

"The air became unbreathable and the boys would cough every night and end up in our bed."

The problems affected Tyler and Joanna in particular, since both suffer with asthma.

According to the Kings, their landlord said he would look into getting a grant to fix the problems last December, but nothing happened, and in May this year the damp in the boys' bedroom became so bad all five children had to move into the same room.

The Kings say in June they had to throw out clothes which had become mouldy in a damp wardrobe and at the end of the month a notice was pushed through their letterbox telling them they had two months' notice to leave the property.

Having been given notice the family approached North Devon Council's housing options and were told there was nothing that could be done to help them until they were given an eviction notice.

Now they have an eviction notice all that is available through the housing options team is a one-bedroom family room in Ilfracombe.

"We couldn't move to Ilfracombe," said Mrs King. "And how are seven of us meant to live in one room?"

"It makes no sense, housing options won't let us bid on a house any smaller than four bedrooms, and now they're offering us this.

"It makes us feel uneasy. I have Crohn's disease, so I'm swollen, sore and in pain every day with high blood pressure.

"My husband and I are arguing more because we don't know what to do. He feels it's all out of his hands and he can't provide for his family. We've decorated the house for Christmas but we're not feeling very Christmassy."

But there is hope for the King family. Steve Edmonds, from housing options, said it is unlikely the Kings will be made homeless before Christmas.

He said: "It's unlikely the county court bailiffs will evict them this side of Christmas.

"And after Christmas we have a place coming up for them which we will pay the deposit and advance rent on."

David Evans said he wanted to speak to his solicitor before he spoke to the Journal and was then unavailable for comment ahead of the paper going to print.

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