A message from Jason Collins:
My partner Helen Kinsey, a teacher, and I formerly lived in the community of Dorchester Court, Herne Hill, where we lived in our flat, paying rent, for 21 years. We lived with our two daughters, aged 13 and 16. Despite our every effort to stay in this place we loved, the threat of High Court bailiffs forced us out. I also lost my job gardening at Dorchester Court. Nothing more than a note pushed through the door at Dorchester Court after we'd been forced out which said my "services were no longer required." Which also means I'll probably never be paid for the work I've done recently either!
In 2013 we were asked for a rent increase of £268 a month; that is 30%. We negotiated it down to £168. The following year we were issued with a repossession notice. It was not clear what sort of tenancy we had and despite a number of requests the landlords did not provide us with the documents we needed until court proceedings were issued. Our household income was £13 a month above the limit for legal aid and so we defended ourselves against a barrister and solicitor. We lost.
The judge has ordered us to pay the landlord's costs. over £7,400. Manaquel are a wealthy property company; the managing director is 150th in the Times rich list. We have a household income of just £31,000.
Rental prices in London are astronomical - however our teenage children are in crucial stages of their education so we have no choice but to stay in the area. We struggled to find somewhere suitable to rent within our means and within striking distance of their respective schools. Property agents required us to be earning £40,000 a year to rent a property barely big enough for the 4 of us. We have got round it by agreeing to pay 6 months rent in advance however we had to raise £10,000 to cover the 6 months rent in advance plus the fees and deposit. The money raised so far by the huge generosity of friends and family has been £3,500 via our first crowdfunder and a benefit concert. We had to borrow to make up the shortfall.
We're now in Sydenham, in a considerably smaller place, in disarray, in debt and with our eldest daughter living elsewhere - for now we have been forced to split up. It's something we always hoped to avoid.
Which leaves the court costs this second funder was set up for. We are hoping to appeal them but are nervous of losing and having them increased. We are hoping to secure the support of a pro bono barrister. If we manage a successful appeal and legal costs are dropped we will use any money we have not used for moving to make a donation to a housing campaign and homeless charity.
Private renters in London have 2 months notice to vacate their homes. The law needs to be reviewed. Article 8 of the human rights act says everyone is entitled to a home. Please sign this petition which we helped to write in conjunction with Generation Rent.
Earlier this week I found Mr. Mervyn Mandell, a representative of the landlord, in Dorchester Court. I tried to ask him some questions and filmed his reaction. I was given no answers. My behaviour may have been rash but the stress we have been through cannot be underestimated, I felt a spontaneous urge to action. I may very well have lost my gardening job in Dorchester Court over this.
VIDEO LINK: Encounter with Landlord's Man
Until yesterday I was the gardener at Dorchester Court.
No, they left an envelope through our door in Dorchester Court after we'd gone. The letter said my services "were no longer required." This adds insult to injury and increases cost as I'll probably never be paid for work done at Dorchester Court since the eviction but while I thought I still had a job. Business as usual with this landlord - lack of information tantamount to misinformation.
Extraordinary timing: photo taken by Google Maps Street View on a pass-by was used as the backdrop for an audio interview compiled by Herne Hill Forum on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/herne-hill-forum/jason-coll...
For many reasons this campaign has not fared well. Most friends and family already gave during our first Just Giving crowdfunder even though that campaign fell over £8000 short of target. Others came to our benefit concert mentioned below, and others donated items for an auction. In addition, Christmas is coming on soon. However, all the costs of moving, new accommodation within a reasonable distance, and forced borrowing have exceeded expectation and court costs remain the same - and a huge worry. On top of all this, it looks like I've been sacked from my job at Dorchester Court. So in the hope we can raise more than just the £40 we've had pledged at this time of update, we have extended the campaign into the New Year.
The event described below happened on November 8th and raised almost £800. It was a great success and our goodbye to Herne Hill. So although it is in the past, we've left it on this fundraising page with a few new photos.
When I'm not gardening I play music and love to play it live and to share it in large collectives. I founded the London Musicians Folk & Americana Orchestra as well as The Umbrellabirds with this in mind. I've organised a gig for what I'm calling the Kinsey Family Benefit at Off The Cuff (OTC) Bar in this Sunday November 8th. OTC is located in Arch 645, 301-303 Railton Rd, Herne Hill SE24 0JN - 07853 476235. Anyone who has any ideas for the auction and raffle/prizes please submit them, these would be gratefully accepted. Things like CDs, paintings, restaurant meals, acupuncture, house concerts - interesting, inspiring things. Needed ASAP to 91 Dorchester Court, Herne Hill, London SE24 9QY
There will be a lot of great acts on during the day, an auction with some fantastic things on offer, a raffle, our very own U-Bird human jukebox throughout the day between acts and culminating in the evening with a performance a collaboration involving members of the LONDON MUSICIANS FOLK & AMERICANA ORCHESTRA, a collective of quite a few of the acts playing during the day. So we may well do that promised version of Wuthering Heights, Ace Of Spades & Wichita Lineman! The SOULESS MINIONS OF ORTHODOXY are at our door, we need to make this a HUGE SUCCESS, so much goodwill MUST make for a wonderful day. Some of the proceeds will go towards SHELTER or a homeless charity.
Thanks for all of your help!