Shady Ideas

Half Mag / Half Zine

A dad who says he was slapped with an eviction notice just a few days after his child was born says he’s scared for his son.

Merlin Hayward moved into a new property in Newport, Wales, with partner Laura as they were expecting a child and needed a bigger place.

But after moving on March 12, Mr Hayward said faults with the flat kept emerging, claiming it was cold and dirty.

Poor sound insulation and insecure windows were among the issues reported to letting agency RedKey Property Services

But earlier this month they were given notice to leave the property.

The letting agency says that they tried to address the family’s concerns and they have six months until they need to move out.

“When I walked in I knew it wasn’t in a good condition at all,” Mr Hayward claimed. “But we were extremely restricted with our budget and we had a child on the way, so I agreed to take it on.”

“I found myself waking up in the middle of the night with adrenaline because the noise was that loud from the flat above,” he explained.

“It’s not the tenant’s fault – the walls and ceiling should be insulated to protect against this issue.

“I offered the letting agency £1,000 of my own money to help insulate the property, but it became very clear there was no room for negotiation.

“We then found a mouse hole in the bathroom which was blocked up with some loose wood, and I have a very small child who can’t go on the floor because it is in such a bad condition.

“Rather than fixing the problem with the sound insulation, the letting agency offered we move flats again,” he said.

“But that isn’t the correct solution. The reasonable thing is surely to make sure the sound insulation is right for every tenant.

“It beggars belief that they weren’t willing to make any investment beyond what they absolutely had to.

“Our oven didn’t work and so they had to replace it, and did so with an oven that was that big it protruded from the rest of the kitchen units.”

But RedKey insists it did all they could to help the couple before serving notice on them.

A spokeswoman for RedKey said: “Mr Hayward and his partner have a tenancy at the property they rent via RedKey Property Services until September 11, 2021. They have not been evicted.

“We have worked hard to accommodate the demands made by Mr Hayward since he moved into his existing premises on March 12.

“This included offering him alternative accommodation that would have alleviated the noise issues he was concerned about. This offer was declined.

“After failing to reach an agreement with Mr Hayward we issued the Section 21 notice on Friday, May 7.

“This is a notice to bring a tenancy to an end and signify that there is no extension or renewal of the tenancy. Mr Hayward has until November 6 to find alternative accommodation.”

According to the Government website, a Section 21 notice is used to evict tenants with shorthold tenancies. Previously the minimum notice period was two months but that was extended to six as a result of the pandemic.

Mr Hayward said he has been told he could end up in emergency accommodation, where drug users and people suffering with substance misuse may be temporarily rehomed alongside his family.

“I am scared for my son,” he added. “It’s really tough. It’s been a hugely demanding period for us emotionally. Instead of concentrating on supporting my family I’m worrying about getting us a council house.

“More protection is needed for renters against eviction when renters are only asking for a basic standard of living.

“Everyone should be entitled to a decent living space that is clean and that works – especially when I’m paying what the government considers a reasonable rate.”