AN ORPHANED student claims she's considered suicide after a housing association slapped her with an £18,000 bill for rent on her dead mother's home.
Chantelle Zaabu, 25, says she has been held liable for the huge sum in 'use and occupation charges' following the death of mother Norah, 58.
However, Chantelle doesn't live in the four-bed home in Penge, south-east London, instead choosing to stay in student accommodation.
Despite that, the fees from Clarion Housing Group continue to mount, and she currently owes £18,188.23. Company bosses say they've offered Chantelle another home, but were rejected as it wasn't in Zone 1 or 2.
Chantelle, who studies engineering, lost both her mum and her father figure in 2019. Her biological dad died in 1996.
She said she expects to become homeless at the end of the university year.
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"I'm depressed and suicidal," she told MyLondon.
"I've kind of been on a low level. It's been really tough.
"I haven't been able to grieve the loss of my parents, I haven't been able to have a normal life.
"This has disrupted every facet of my life. It's affected everything."
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After Norah's death, Chantelle said she hoped to be rehoused in a smaller property.
However, Clarion instead issued a notice for her to quit her mum's home altogether, she claims. This is denied by the company.
"Three months after my mum passed, they were trying to get rid of me," she said.
"It's the perfect storm."
She blasted the housing association for lacking "humanity and empathy".
After challenging the decision with the Housing Ombudsman, she was given £150 in compensation from Clarion.
'I'LL BE HOMELESS'
But months later, she was sent an email asking for backdated payments for her mum's home.
"It said basically, 'You've been charged, we've been charging you £104 per week'," she said.
"By the time I received it, the payments were already backdated."
But she said she'd never agreed to pay the charges, as the home isn't in her name.
"There is no legal document to agree to pay rent," she said.
"It's not in my name. It's in the name of my mum, but you can't claim rent from someone who is deceased. They've pinned it on me."
I haven't been able to grieve the loss of my parents… this has affected every facet of my life
She said Clarion "can take the house" – but desperately urged them to waive the charges.
A spokesperson for Clarion Housing Group said: “We appreciate this has been a distressing time for Ms Zaabu and are very sorry for the loss of her mother.
"Social housing is in high demand and scarce supply in London and there remain tens of thousands of families on housing waiting lists.
“We offered Ms Zaabu a tenancy at a one-bedroom property in her local area, which would meet her housing need and ability to pay.
"However, she declined this offer and advised us she would only consider a home in Zone 1 or Zone 2 of London.
“Demand is particularly acute in Zone 1 and 2 and when a home becomes available it must be offered to a household in the highest need.
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"Despite frequent attempts to contact Ms Zaabu, she has not been engaging with us. We encourage her to get in touch with Clarion again and we will do all we can to support her to find a suitable home."
In response, Chantelle said she never received any offer for a property and that she continues to be charged. She said she's attempted to contact the housing association repeatedly, but has had no response.
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