Kidney patient’s house swap trauma – The Crusader

“It’s knockbacks whatever way I turn, I want to hide away,” despairing kidney patient Sandie Bentley told Crusader when she first came to us about her payment problem with London company FA Removals.

If you’ve been affected by this issue or feel you’ve been a victim of injustice, please contact consumer champion Maisha Frost on [email protected]

In the course of delving into her rights about that, Sandie’s struggles over the home exchange also came to light.

As a home dialysis patient she needs a separate inside room, a second bedroom in effect, to treat herself twice a day and store the large amount of fluids required.  

Her local authority house in Sutton, Surrey, has that and so did a new home in a nearby area that she found that was closer to her children run by south London housing association Optivo.

Its tenant was all up for the swap and Sandie supplied medical evidence from her hospital consultant about her condition.

“Then a couple of weeks before the move I was asked to supply evidence from my GP. The queues at my surgery were huge then and I explained to Optivo how difficult that would be,” she explained.

The actual date for the move had never been confirmed and Sandie recognises she should have waited for that.

But anxious to book a remover and not get caught up in Covid delays, she paid a £300 deposit to FA Removals which she claims it had asked to be by bank transfer. The remainder of the fee she paid by her Nationwide bank credit card so with potential consumer protections.

Shortly after she learned the move was off, understanding that was because of “under occupancy, as a single person I only qualified for one bedroom”.

When Sandie asked FA Removals for a refund it declined. It told Crusader it would undertake the removal if she needed it in the future.

“We have been patient, compassionate and empathetic,” declared company director Franck Nitcheu Touko. “According to regulations she had 14 days to cancel from when the deposit was paid. It is important to understand that in removals we deal with limited resources in terms of vehicle and staff allocation.”

 

According to his valuation, “in the grand scheme of things Sandie has cost £3000 as a direct and indirect result of her cancellation.”

However when we alerted Nationwide it was keen to support its loyal customer as much as possible and has looked at the contract’s fairness. It is now helping her to dispute her card payment and, pending an outcome, has returned Sandie’s £900.

“I am so grateful to Nationwide and Crusader’s support,” Sandie said last week.

Now Optivo has said it would review its decision once she has sent them a GP’s letter – which will cost her £30 – and help her with any reapplication. 

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Calls for housing providers to understand more about the impact of kidney disease

Leading charity Kidney Care UK (01420 541424, www.kidneycareuk.org) offers a wide range of support for patients and can help ensure they receive all the benefits and priority treatment they are entitled to. 

Home dialysis improves quality of life and has been shown to be safer during the pandemic.

The charity urged: “We believe home dialysis should be offered more consistently. We encourage housing providers to work with us to help understand the relentlessness of kidney disease and dialysis, and how they can help their tenants live their lives to the full, despite having to undergo hours if gruelling life-maintaining treatments.

“We would always encourage patients to appeal decisions with the help of a social worker or a Kidney Care UK Advocacy Officer and would urge people to also ask their kidney doctor or team to provide written evidence of the need for home dialysis and what provision is needed for this to happen.”

Kidney Care UK can also provide grants to help kidney patients with storage.

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