A FATHER in Magor has criticised Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) for his family's increasingly desperate situation, after a problem with paperwork has left them “days from homelessness.”

Warehouse manager Shane Harris said his family was told last June that the landlord of their privately-rented home was planning to sell the property.

Shortly after, Mr Harris notified MCC's Housing Options team that his family was under threat of future homelessness, with the landlord’s eviction notice containing a deadline of January 14.

MCC said the family first contacted the authority in September, while Mr Harris said it was earlier.

But it took the council until November – MCC said it was October – to tell the Harris family their application was invalid because the notice of eviction had not been made official by Rent Smart Wales.


While the correct paperwork – a Section 21 notice – was later filed by an agent working on the landlord's behalf, Mr Harris said the family was now “panicking” because they had effectively lost several months in which they could have searched for a new home.

“We’re trying our hardest to survive, and it seems the council doesn’t care,” he said.

MCC, meanwhile, said its attempts to contact the Harris family before October went unanswered.

He said council officers had been bidding on homes in Bulwark, Chepstow, but hadn’t informed the family of this until Monday (January 7).

Moving so far away from Magor, he said, would make juggling work and family life extremely difficult.

“It’s not fair on the kids. I can’t drive, so I can’t take them to school.”

At present, Mr Harris' fiancée picks up their children from school each day and then takes them to his place of work before herself setting off to work. Mr Harris then takes the children home on the bus.

He is worried that moving the family further away from the Magor area will disrupt family life, especially for his children who will face very early starts and late finishes to their school days.

“The eviction notice is up in [a few] days and we’ve still got nowhere to live,” he said.

“My parents are elderly and my partner’s parents live in England.

“She’s panicking like hell and so am I.

"We don’t know if we’ll be kept on until we find somewhere or if we’ll be out.”

In a statement responding to Mr Harris' claims, a spokesman for MCC said: "The advice to many applicants has to be that the private rented sector shouldn’t be discounted as an option.

"The Housing Options officers have an extremely difficult task of responding to requests for homeless assistance.

"The lack of accommodation in Monmouthshire, whether public or private, unfortunately means that on occasions the team have to deliver some difficult messages, which we understand can often conflict with applicants’ expectations."

Regarding the possibility the Harris family would be offered a home away from their preferred location of Magor, the council spokesman said: "Where possible the authority will seek to enable the applicant to retain established links with schools, doctors and support.

"As discussed above, due to the lack of social housing available to MCC, this is not always possible.

"From the information given, the place of work is Caldicot and accommodation in Chepstow would be considered a reasonable offer as it is only six miles away and there are regular transport links.

"With regard to schooling, the options are the children remain at the school they are currently in, or are moved to a school closer to the [new] property.

"While it is appreciated a change is school is something parents would like to avoid, accommodation is the most important thing."

MCC advised the family would not be evicted on January 14 because "the expiry of a Section 21 notice does not end the tenancy."