Working Edinburgh family forced into homelessness after eviction

James and Natasha Neill along with their 6yr old daughgter Lois have been forced to move into his grandparents house. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
James and Natasha Neill along with their 6yr old daughgter Lois have been forced to move into his grandparents house. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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A working Edinburgh family were made homeless and told they must wait another year for a council house after their landlord evicted them from their Oxgangs home.

The family has hit out at the price of housing in the Capital and the council’s handling of the homelessness problem after being temporarily housed in a B&B in Cramond, an hour away from their six-year-old daughter’s school.

Their story adds more evidence to the argument that Edinburgh is getting too expensive for ordinary working people to work in, with the council stating the number of people being made homeless from the private rental sector (PRS) is on the rise.

Housing convener Kate Campbell said the council is working to provide more suitable temporary accommodation and added overall homeless numbers are falling.

However, James and Natasha Neill, 32 and 33, who work as a chef and a sales assistant respectively were placed in an unsuitable B&B with their six-year-old daughter after they were evicted from their Oxgangs house in August.

The Neills discovered, despite working more than 30 hours a week, that they were unable to afford the near £2,000 for a deposit and the first month’s 
rent for even the cheapest of homes.

Mr Neill said: “Edinburgh is so expensive it is unbelievable.

“We work 30-plus hours a week and our wages are not great, about £2,000 per month between us.

“Most of these houses are 40 or 50 per cent our income before tax and bills. To move into any where is basically a full month’s wage and sometimes even more.”

Mr Neill added: “It’s not workable to be in one room with you, your partner and a wee one at school.

“There are people staying in the hostel that I don’t want my daughter around.

“And I don’t want her sitting there for an hour with people like this and people going backwards and forwards.

“Mostly I feel that they don’t understand the situation that the people they are dealing with are in.

“They don’t seem to have compassion.

“I don’t think they grasp the severity of what they are dealing with with some people at the council.”

The Neills moved to James’ grandmother’s house in Mortonhall but have since been offered a room in a Travelodge and a temporary council flat in Clermiston.

The latter has meant taking Lois out of her school but the Neills will stay there until a suitable permanent council house is found for them.

Housing convener Kate Campbell said: “Our PRS housing officers and rent deposit scheme are two very important interventions we’ve made that will help people in this difficult situation, either by offering support to stay in a tenancy, or by helping find alternative settled accommodation so that households can avoid homelessness.

“This isn’t always possible so we are continuing to increase the supply of temporary furnished flats so that families can be suitably accommodated as quickly as possible.”