A COUNCIL tenant has said she has been left 'victimised and embarrassed' over her landlord's treatment of her belongings.

The woman, who has been a tenant with Darlington Borough Council for around 20 years and lives alone with a disability, said her 'trust has been breached' after receiving a legal notice to say some of her furniture had been seized during maintenance work on her home.

In November, the tenant arranged with the council to have major boiler repairs done which involved the removal and rearranging of furniture.

Due to her disability, the woman was offered a removal service and some of her belongings were put into storage with a set date for them to be returned when the work was completed.

However, the day before the woman's possession were returned, she said she was shocked to receive a notice from the council to say her belongings had been seized under health and safety concerns.

She said: “I’m confronted with this situation of being deprived of my possessions. I have items of need in some of the furniture in storage.

"They extended the offer of help, which I accepted in trust, and, as my landlord, they have abused that trust by taking this action at the eleventh hour.

"I am at a loss of what next to do and have no legal advice."

A Darlington Borough Council spokesman said: “Despite repeated attempts to engage with the tenant, we were unable to get into the property to carry out repairs. We were left with no choice but to take court action. The judge ordered that the tenancy would end unless she let us in to do the repair work by November 15.

“Both the removals company and the council’s housing team were concerned that, if they had simply returned the tenant’s belongings after the repair work, they would effectively be re-cluttering the property. Excess clutter increases the risk of fire, and it also means that if a fire did start, the exit route could be blocked.

“After taking advice from a specialist housing barrister, we wrote to the tenant to advise her of the legal basis for not returning her belongings, advising that this is on health and safety grounds.

“We also advised that if any items were needed urgently, we would be happy to retrieve them and advised the tenant of options, including: having the property stored elsewhere at her own cost; selling the items and giving her the proceeds, minus sale costs; disposal of the items.

“This is a health and safety related decision, which we are confident is lawful and appropriate.”