A forever home

After years of sofa surfing, Andy Jones found a place to call home to share with his dog Whitney. Now, having switched from a five-year tenancy to a lifetime one, he has a home for life and can really settle down.

When Andy Jones left his job in a pub, he lost his home too. The flat above came as part of the package so he had to find somewhere else to live.

Needing thousands of pounds for a deposit and eight weeks’ rent in advance, Andy decided to move in with his partner.

“Things were OK for a while but, unfortunately, the relationship broke down and I needed to move out but had nowhere to go,” says Andy. “I didn’t have any savings to pay up front for a privately rented flat, so I had to beg friends to put me up.”

Andy spent months sofa surfing and asking everyone he knew for a roof over his head. He was considering moving out of London, but he didn’t want to be away from his friends and his job in the civil service.

“Everyone deserves to have a home and I believe that I deserve this one.”

“Not having a permanent home made my health worse and I was stressed every day,” says Andy. “I was on the housing list and as my health issues became severe, I was moved up the priority list.”

A viewing of a tiny, one-bedroomed flat in Brixton was the turning point for Andy. He was third on the list but after the other two people decided the flat was too small, Andy was the next in line.

“I knew it was home as soon as I walked in,” says Andy. “It even had a small garden for my dog so, for me, it was perfect.”

Andy got to work as soon as he moved in. He sanded the original wood floors and, outside, he covered the concrete with Astroturf and added some planters.

“When the work was done, I sat back in my garden and felt like a weight had been lifted,” says Andy. “All I could think about was that this place was mine now and I had somewhere for me and Whitney to live.”

It didn’t take long for Andy to settle into the area. Thanks to his dog, he soon made friends with his neighbours.

“They are all friendly, hard-working people and we all look out for each other,” says Andy. “Everyone takes in parcels and we keep the outside areas clean and tidy. What’s more, I feel safe here.”

Andy was given a standard five-year tenancy agreement.

“Being homeless made me feel so low that I didn’t know where to turn.”

“Everyone was happy for me, especially my mum who welled up when she saw my new home,” says Andy.

But one thing still troubled him.

“I still felt a bit insecure, as I was used to landlords selling up and forcing me to move out,” he says. “I wasn’t sure whether L&Q might do the same.”

Then he received a letter that gave him the extra security he was looking for. It said that L&Q was switching fixed-term tenancies to lifetime ones and that he could have a permanent home if he wanted it.

“I was in disbelief when I read it,” says Andy. “I cried a bit, I have to say.”

With the weight lifted from his shoulders, Andy is positive about the future for the first time in years.

“Before moving here I was just surviving, not living.”

“Having lived out of a suitcase for so long, I never wanted to put down roots,” says Andy. “Now I can be proud of my home and invite friends round for dinner.”

Andy is comfortable with the rent and says it’s affordable for what he earns. He’s started to plan ahead and is even considering going for a promotion at work.

“Having a lovely home and a secure roof over my head has really changed my life,” says Andy. “I will always be eternally grateful to you for giving me a home for life.”