Family of five almost made homeless by landlord just two weeks before Christmas
- Credit: Kerry Frith
A mother-of-three was left sick with worry when she and her family came close to homelessness just two weeks before Christmas - but they were saved at the last minute by a technicality.
Kerry Frith, 39, was handed a section 21 notice by her landlord in May, which gave her family - husband Ian, 44, and children Alisha Page, 21, Tilisa Frith, five, and Kai Frith, four - two months notice to leave their home of four years in Motum Road, Norwich.
Mrs Frith said she did not know why her landlord, Michael Richardson, was throwing them out - but the law states a landlord can force out a tenant without giving a reason under the notice.
The landlord took the couple to court to apply for a possession order after they decided to challenge the eviction. Their first court appearance took place in Norwich County Court on Wednesday afternoon.
Judge Nicholas Reeves told the landlord that in order for the notice to be valid certain provisions must be met and the burden of proof rested on him.
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It was then, only a matter of minutes into the hearing, that Mr Richardson said he was not sure whether a deposit protection service (DPS) certificate had been given to the couple - one of the requirements needed to execute the notice.
'I didn't personally provide them with one,' he said, stating that the agency was tasked with supplying them with the certificate.
But Judge Reeves said that, despite it being the fault of the agency, it was Mr Richardson's responsibility to make sure the couple were provided with the certificate and, without evidence they had been given one, the notice was not valid.
A relieved Mrs Frith said: 'When he said that, I grabbed Ian's hand and squeezed it tight.
'I went into court thinking the worst, I was slightly positive but after thinking we didn't have a defence I felt physically sick.
'Having to tell my family that we're getting kicked out and the stress of not knowing where we were going to go, I cried about it all before.'
Had the notice been valid, the family may have been given a minimum of two weeks to leave - which would have given them until Christmas Day to pack up and find somewhere else to live.
The family have put off decorating the house and putting up a tree for fear of having to leave, but now they hope to celebrate without worry.
'All I want is a home for my family,' said a tearful Mrs Frith. 'We can enjoy our Christmas at last.'