and turn a couples nightmare into a dream…

A Middlesbrough couple are settling into their new rented bungalow, after a three-decade battle with ill-heath and financial struggles.

Andrew and Christine Greening’s woes began in the 1980s. Andrew had been working away from home but, with the birth of their second child approaching, had chosen to become self-employed so he could be closer to Christine. Unfortunately, this came at a time when mortgage rates were soaring to record levels and the couple began to struggle financially.

In 1991, with payments starting to slip into arrears, they spoke to their lender and were offered a mortgage rescue arrangement in an effort to keep their home.

Christine said: “We took the mortgage rescue option because, at the time, they promised that we would just have to pay a housing association level rent and would then eventually be able to buy our house back if we looked after it ourselves, which we did for 25 years.”

Throughout their tenancy, the couple were subjected to annual rent increases, resulting in them paying almost double the amount of some neighbours, and were left feeling ignored by their landlord when reporting issues with the poor condition of their property.

In 2013, the couple’s worries took on an unexpected dimension as Andrew was diagnosed with cancer and had to embark on a lengthy period of treatment. The eventual outcome was good, but in 2018 he received a further blow with a second medical diagnosis, this time with heart failure.

With Andrew’s health issues escalating, and with growing concerns about the condition of their home, the couple took legal advice to seek a solution to their rapidly worsening situation. They successfully reached an out of court settlement with the landlord, but the legal fees had soaked up Andrew’s pension and savings.

Around this time, Andrew and Christine learned that their home of more than 30 years, which they’d hoped to buy back, had now been sold at auction to another private landlord. The sympathetic new owner immediately dropped their monthly rent from £900 to £500 and offered to address all the disrepair issues, however he advised that any substantial works would have to be covered by future rent increases.

With little remaining from their savings and pension, the couple made the decision to seek a new, more affordable home. They had walked past our Beyond Housing Beechwood development site, opposite James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough, on several occasions, agreeing that living in one of the new bungalows would be a dream come true. Acting on impulse, they spoke with contractors Mandale Homes on the site and, on learning that we would be taking over the 36 new two and three-bedroom bungalows upon completion, made an immediate call to register their interest.

Within weeks, having met the tenancy requirements and completed all the necessary procedures, Andrew and Christine were told that they had been accepted for one of the new bungalows.

Christine reflected on the couple’s experience with us and said: “Absolutely fantastic! I think the customer service is fantastic. I feel secure now.”

Andrew added: “Beyond Housing was a breath of fresh air, a totally different ball game compared to other places we’d tried. I’d begun to feel bitter over recent years but I’m losing all that now. We’ve got a new start in a new home at last.”

Lorna Gaffney, Community Advisor at Beyond Housing, said: “We’re delighted to have been able to help Andrew and Christine get their dream home. We understand it’s been a rocky road for them, but we hope they can now relax and enjoy their new bungalow, safe in the knowledge that Beyond Housing is here to help.”

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