A U-turn by a housing association on a decision which was set to leave 16 families homeless has left Horsham residents relieved.
Last month the County Times reported residents in Eady Close had been given two months to ‘vacate’ their properties after receiving letters from Sanctuary Housing telling them their tenancies were up and the company had decided not to renew them.
The properties were set to be turned into social housing and the decision left many outraged.
However, a month on from the announcement the association has said it has ‘reviewed’ the decision and offered residents the chance to renew their tenancies.
A spokesperson for Sanctuary said: “Following feedback from our residents, we reviewed our decision and decided to give people the option of remaining a tenant in our homes should they so wish.
“We have now spoken to the residents affected about this and they are happy with this approach.”
Many tenants have expressed their relief at the company’s change of heart.
Resident Alastair Warren was celebrating his birthday when he received a phone call about the news.
He said: “It was a bit of a shock really. I was out celebrating and I got the news.
“It has been an exhausting process trying to get the decision overturned. Just the stress of it was quite difficult to come to terms with.
“It would have been a massive strain to get all my things moved and I would have had to sell a lot of stuff.
“It is a massive relief. I am felling much better now I have got the news.”
The County Times along with Horsham MP Jeremy Quin worked closely with residents to help raise the issue with association.
Mr Quin has visited the tenants throughout the past month and was very happy the situation had now been resolved.
He said: “It has been a tough time for the Eady Close tenants and I was keen to help them.
“I am delighted that Sanctuary have had a change of heart. The community was working together with the help of HDC and I am so pleased that Sanctuary listened and acted.”
Resident Julie Webb said she was also very relived and wanted to thank everybody for their support.
She said: “When we first found out it was really out of the blue. We all felt lost, we didn’t know what we were doing.
“It is absolutely fantastic news, we are really pleased but it was a hell of a stressful time.
“We are really relieved and are all grateful for the support we have had from everyone.”
Julie also said despite the stress some positives had come out of the experience.
She continued: “In a nice way it has bought everyone in the street together. We all really rallied.
“I think everyone is more open and are talking to one another more now.
“I just feel sorry for those who have already moved and those who are about to.”
She added she had been very pleased with the help from both Sanctuary and Horsham District Council throughout the past month.
However other residents have not been so thrilled.
Heather Craig and her partner had an offer accepted on a house before receiving the original letter from Sanctuary stating they had two months to find a new home.
She said the pair had to pull out of the offer as there was no guarantee they could move into the new home before they had to leave Eady Close.
She said: “It was a bit of a mess really. I don’t really get what they were playing at.
“We had our offer accepted and we were just waiting for the owners of the house to find another property before we were given the notice.
“We had to pull out as we just didn’t know how long it would take for them to find somewhere else.
“I am studying for my law exam and it is not ideal. I have been stressed out to the max.”
Heather added the pair have no family in the area to stay with and had no option but to find somewhere to rent quickly.
In response to the couple’s problem a spokesperson for Sanctuary said: “The notices were served to make tenants aware of our intention to end the tenancy, and were not eviction notices.
“When tenants have contacted us we’ve made arrangements to suit them, whether that is staying in their homes for longer or helping them find alternative accommodation if they prefer.
“We would encourage tenants to let us know if there is anything further we can do to assist,” the spokesperson concluded.