Housing association apologises after woman returns to find another family living in her home

Fiona Haslam says the experience has been very stressful Credit: BPM Media

A woman who spent 111 days in a budget hotel while her own home was being repaired returned to her house – only to discover the rented property had been handed to someone else.

Fiona Haslam, 43, from Birmingham, has received £4,900 and an apology from Rubery-based Optima housing association for the error, the Sunday Mercury can reveal.

She went to stay at Longbridge’s Premier Inn after an out-of-control car ploughed through the front door of her home in Hartland Road, Longbridge in March.

The home needed repairs after an out-of-control car crashed into the doorway Credit: BMP Media

Fiona only intended to stay in the hotel for one night, yet ended up there for considerably longer.

She says that, although the staff were very kind to her, the venue was not really suitable for her children, aged 13 and 11, to spend weekends with her.

Fiona Haslam originally intended to only stay one night Credit: BPM

Fiona also suffers from severe depression, and the hotel proved a difficult venue for Birmingham and Solihull Health Team to visit to provide her counselling.

When she was finally told her home was repaired she returned, only to discover another family living there.

She says the experience was very stressful Credit: BPM Media

By July, Fiona left the hotel and moved to temporary private rented accommodation in Northfield, where she still lives.

Optima admits it did not follow protocol in severing the tenancy. Instead, it acted on a word-of-mouth belief Fiona did not want to return to her home.

But the association insists it offered alternative accommodation during her Premier Inn stay, which was rejected.

It also picked up her £140-a-week hotel tab and met the bill for the move to Northfield.

The association added that part of the delay in repairing the Hartland Road property was caused by the tenant’s failure to remove her belongings.

In a letter to Fiona, Optima admits to “clearly getting a number of things wrong” and pledges lessons have been learned.