A Labour council is ‘torturing’ a disabled man by threatening to evict him

A vote Labour sign and Andrew Brogan holding a notice to quit
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A Labour-run council is still trying to evict two brothers, one of whom is disabled, from their family home. It comes after the council wanted them out on Boxing Day 2021. And even after medical professionals and support workers appealed to the council to show leniency, it’s still refusing to back down.

A traumatic year made worse by a Labour council

As The Canary previously reported, Sean and Andrew Brogan live in West Lancashire. The home is a council property, managed by Labour-led West Lancashire borough council. Andrew, who lives with Asperger’s syndrome, has always lived there. They currently face the prospect of the council kicking them out – essentially because both their parents died.

In November 2021, it gave the brothers a “Notice to Quit“, which ran out on Boxing Day last year. This was because the tenancy was in their late mother’s name, not theirs. Legally, the council can do this. As The Canary previously reported, this is because the family’s tenancy was originally a joint one between the brothers’ parents.

When their father died, their mother inherited it though a process called “succession“. This process of inheriting a tenancy agreement can generally only happen once. So, in theory, Andrew doesn’t have any right to the tenancy. Sean confirmed that the council refused their request for a further tenancy succession.

Andrew’s situation is exacerbated by the fact he lives with Asperger’s syndrome. In his case, this means it’s vital for his wellbeing to remain in familiar surroundings. Sean wrote that:

the only suitable place that he can reside in is within the home he has lived in since he was born as it is familiar and safe to him. This has been the family home since 1958.

So, Boxing Day came and went, and the council didn’t evict the brothers. But now, it appears ready to do so.

Read on...

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Ignoring Andrew’s reasonable adjustments?

On 1 March, the council wrote to the brothers. It was after Sean, along with Andrew’s support workers, GP, occupational therapist and others asked the council to reconsider its decision given Andrew’s circumstances. But the council refused to change its decision.

In a letter seen by The Canary, the council reiterated its succession policy. It also said that the house was too big for the brothers (it’s a three bedroom residence). But crucially, the council said that it was:

unable to determine that [Andrew’s situation with Asperger’s] is sufficient grounds to consider granting the tenancy.

It has offered the brothers a two bedroom flat instead.

West Lancashire council says…

The Canary asked West Lancashire borough council for comment. A spokesperson told us:

West Lancashire Borough Council’s Tenancy Services team have been working closely with Mr Brogan and his family to find a solution to his housing situation. We appreciate this has been a very upsetting time for Mr Brogan and our officers have been sensitive to this while exploring the options we have at our disposal.

A review of the decision that Mr Brogan was not entitled to succeed to his mother’s tenancy has now been carried out, taking into account supporting information the family and support services have provided. We accept there may be circumstances that warrant exceptions to the normal rules – in such circumstances we may consider granting a new tenancy to a person who may not normally be entitled to succeed, as is the case with Mr Brogan.

After careful consideration of all the facts, including support and adaptation needs, the type and size of the property and demand for family accommodation in the area, it has been decided that unfortunately, we are unable to award the tenancy of this three bedroom house to Mr Brogan.

‘Significant impact’ but still evicting them, anyway

The council spokesperson continued:

Naturally, we appreciate that the prospect of having to move from the family home where he has lived for many years will have a significant impact on him and we are keen to continue to support him to find suitable alternative accommodation – with this in mind we have already made an offer of the tenancy of a two bedroom flat close to his current home so he can continue to live in the area that is familiar to him.

We are committed to offering applicants a choice of accommodation and will look into individual circumstances when someone is left in a property following the death of a relative. Unfortunately, the Council may not be able to meet all requests due to the level of demand or availability of accommodation within the Borough.

“Tortured”

Sean and his brother are devastated. He told The Canary:

We’ve felt tortured for months on end, with zero communication from them until now. My brother is crying and won’t talk. I’m not sure what we’ll do now. But I think we’ll end up in court.

The brothers still have options. So far, the council has not asked a court for an eviction notice, and the brothers can therefore stay in the property. If the council serves them an eviction notice, they have the right to appeal it in front of a judge. A court may be more understanding of Andrew’s clear need to stay in the family home. But of course, this sort of cruel outcome is all the more likely when you have governments, councils and housing associations who gut social housing, slash budgets and denigrate poor and disabled people.

So for now, the brothers are left in limbo – while the council cruelly sticks to its rules on the issue. 

Featured image via Evelyn Simak – Geograph and Sean Brogan

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