Girl, 7, faces homelessness as family evicted from flat despite paying rent on time

News

Sitting on the floor surrounded by packed boxes, seven-year-old Bella cuddles each of her dolls goodbye. She worries they will be cold as they’re sent off to storage.

But Bella does not know where she and her two little sisters will sleep tomorrow.

Her family, through no fault of their own, is being evicted from their two-bedroom flat.

“I don’t want to leave my dolls, and I don’t want to leave my home,” says Bella.

“Home means love because your family is there with you to keep you safe. I’ve had lots of memories here and I don’t want them to fade.”

Bella was becoming one of 10,000 children in England experiencing eviction and homelessness. Her mum Clarissa, 32, lives in Birmingham with her fiance Theo, who works in a hospital and is father to her two youngest girls Nylah, three, and Macie, two.

The family paid their £600 rent without ever falling into arrears.

But Clarissa, who is studying to be a midwife, said her landlord told her he was having to sell up.

She adds: “The next thing I had an eviction letter, then a Section 21. I cried every day since.”

Former Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to ban Section 21, or no fault evictions, in 2019. Since then more than 41,000 have been served and they are still in use.

Research by charity Shelter for Channel 4’s Dispatches, which tells Bella’s heart-wrenching story, found two in three private renters worried they would struggle to pay their landlords.

Private rent prices are way beyond Bella’s family’s budget. They applied for local authority help but were put in a hotel before eventually being put into temporary accommodation.

Clarissa painted the girls’ room lilac to make it feel like home.

But they know one call from the council could turn them out again. Despite everything, Clarissa says: “People are worse off than us and they’re the ones who really need help.”