Mum sobs 'we have nothing' as family-of-six booted out of home after 17 years


A family-of-six say they have been split up and made homeless after they were "unlawfully evicted" from their council home of 17 years.

Parents Bryn and Leigh Davies and their four children were living in a bungalow at a school where he once worked as a resident caretaker.

But they claim they were thrown out by Hertfordshire County Council and given just an hour to pack a few essentials to take to a hotel where they were crammed into two rooms.

Through tears, Mrs Davies, 44, said they are distressed and worried about their future, adding: "We have nothing. We were a happy family and we’ve been robbed. We just want to go home and be a family unit again.

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The bungalow where the Davies had lived since January 2003 (Image: Google Street View)

"We are being treated like criminals. I’m scared I am going to lose my children.

"I can’t sit back and do nothing. I have four children. I have to fight for them."

The Davies and their two sons - Rhys, 15, and George, 12 - are now staying in two small rooms in a converted office block 20 minutes from home. Their daughters - Grace, 21, and Emily, 19 - are staying elsewhere.

Stay-at-home mum Mrs Davies told Mirror Online that the family moved into the three-bedroom bungalow at the now-defunct Sheredes Senior School in Hoddesdon, Herts, in January 2003 when her husband was hired.
One of Mrs Davies' sons had to sleep on a mattress on the floor at a hotel (Image: Mirrorpix)

She said they paid £89.70 a month in subsidised rent, were responsible for bills and maintenance, and carried out modifications to accommodate Mr Davies' disability from severe back pain.

But in July 2015 Mr Davies, 50, was sacked by the school - unfairly, he claims - and the family were ordered to move out, with the council saying his right to remain in the property automatically ceased in accordance with his Service Occupancy Agreement.

The family refused to leave and this led to a lengthy legal battle that made its way to the High Court in October 2017 and Supreme Court in 2019.

At the High Court, the Davies argued that they should be allowed to stay in the home and the council had failed to consider the welfare of their children, who were raised in the bungalow.
Inside one of the temporary housing rooms where Mr and Mrs Davies and their two sons are staying (Image: Mirrorpix)

But the court sided with the council, saying the family's right to occupy the home ended with his job and they had been trespassing ever since he was dismissed.

It allowed the council to move ahead with the eviction, but remained in the bungalow, located next to the school gates, and continued to pay rent.

The Davies claim they weren't notified when the council applied for permission to enforce the writ of possession and the case went to court without their knowledge last year, meaning they weren't giving an opportunity to mount a challenge.

Mrs Davies claims the family had no idea they were being evicted until enforcement officers knocked on her door on February 3.
Bryn and Leigh Davies with their children Rhys (from left), Grace, Emily and George (Image: Mirrorpix)

The council said since the summer of 2019 it had asked the family a number of times to leave voluntarily, but Mr Davies refused.

It said it held off from evicting the family for two years while Mr Davies appealed, and the appeals ended last summer.

The eviction was authorised by the court, but the Davies claim it was unlawful because they weren't give notice.

They have launched a new challenge, arguing they were deprived of their legal right to seek a stay, and a hearing is due to take place on March 2.

Mrs Davies, whose family have launched an online petition to publicise their case, said tearfully: "There was a knock at the door and there were seven enforcement officers there to evict us.
The family moved in when Mr Davies got a job as a caretaker with Sheredes Senior School

"They said if we did not go we would be arrested and face 51 weeks in prison.

"At the end of the day, there were 15 enforcement officers.

"We were told just to take emergencies like medication and paperwork and clothes.

"It was absolute hell, we were in pieces. It was intimidating. At that point, we had to just go." 

She added: "We were illegally evicted. We were never served a notice.
A wardrobe with no hanging rail inside one of the temporary housing rooms (Image: Mirrorpix)

"The whole family has been split up.

"We’ve been told that the bungalow is to be sold. It’s all for profit, it is greed."

The council said it has not yet made a formal decision on the future of the property.

Mr Davies now works as a pest control supervisor in London.

His wife said he has suffered from depression and anxiety, and attempted to take his own life following a mental breakdown that occurred while he was working at the school.
Mr and Mrs Davies and their sons are staying in a converted office block in Essex (Image: Mirrorpix)

He claims it was brought on by bullying and harassment in the workplace.

Mrs Davies said he was sacked when he was on sick leave.

Sheredes School closed in 2016 - a year after Mr Davies was dismissed - and a new academy has since opened in its place. The council doesn't run the school, but it still owns the bungalow at the site.

After being forced out of the home, the family were put in two rooms in a hotel in Great Dumlow, Essex, and then moved into a former office block in Harlow.

Mrs Davies said: "The most distressing thing is I'm not with all of my children. There's no room for all of us.
The Davies children were raised in the bungalow in Hoddesdon, Herts (Image: Mirrorpix)

"We have two studio rooms with two single beds in each but they are not next door to each other.

"In my room there there's a wardrobe with no hanging rail, a microwave, a washing machine and dryer, a fridge, a two-wing hob and a tiny bathroom.

"We have nothing to do. We have no TV. My children have no toys. All of our possessions are still in the bungalow and the locks have been changed.

"It was my husband’s 50th birthday last week, his presents are still in the home."

Friends are taking care of their dog, two cats and budgee.

Mrs Davies said the situation has brought anxiety and stress upon the family, adding: "My sons are embarrassed. My 15-year-old said people are laughing because they know he was sleeping on the floor on a mattress at the hotel."

Emily, who set up the family's petition, said: "There’s a lot of stress put onto my mum and dad.

"Mum went to the doctor’s yesterday and got sleeping tablets. She has been referred to [the mental health charity] Mind.

"They’re just having a mental breakdown at the moment.

"We’re jut absolutely heartbroken and we need to get back."

A Hertfordshire County Council spokesperson said: “The Davies family has been aware since June 2019, when the Supreme Court refused permission to appeal, that they would need to move out of the property.

"In the summer of 2019 the County Council sought a voluntary agreement from Mr Davies to leave the property but this was refused and we therefore had no alternative but to evict.

"We have now recovered possession by lawful means.

"The family have been given a date to arrange removal of their belongings, and we are trying to show humility as we do understand this is a very difficult time.”