If, like us, you’re already an almshouse resident then we commiserate with you. We almshouse residents are all outlaws languishing in a legal oubliette, voiceless and invisible. What we are denied are the two cardinal points of Natural Justice. Under existing charity law, trustees do not even have to listen to a resident they seek to evict. All they have to do is to ‘properly inform themselves’ before coming to a decision to evict. Precisely how they can so come without so listening is palpably anomalous – but that’s the present interpretation of charity law. Thus we have a denial of the two basic principles of Natural Justice:
1. audi alteram partem (‘hear the other side’)
2. nemo judex in parte sua (‘no person may judge his own case’)
These two basic legal safeguards govern all decisions by judges or government officials when they take judicial or quasi-judicial decisions. We maintain that any dispute wherein the roof over a citizen’s head is brought into hazard should be subject to the impartial scrutiny of the courts entirely without exception.
In a court of law the weight of evidence against an allegedly delinquent tenant can be stringently tested and the landlord’s proposed course of action assessed as to its reasonableness and proportionality. Not so with almshouse trustees; they can be as unreasonable and disproportionate as they like, with scant regard to evidence.
‘But can’t I do anything at all to deliver myself from this predicament?’ we hear you ask. Yes you can. It costs nothing and you can remain anonymous. You can join us in our campaign to have almshouse licenses upgraded to secure tenancies. This, at a stroke, would make trustees accountable before the courts.
On this website you’ll find a specimen letter which you can print off and send to your MP. In it is set out the nature of your predicament and what your MP can do to get you out of it. Consider this:
There are some 36,000 people in almshouses at the present time and that number is growing. Most parliamentary constituencies contain estates of almshouses. If just one resident on each estate petitions their MP for a change in the law then just about every MP in the land will be made aware that they have constituents who are denied basic Natural Justice and Human Rights.
So petition your MP now. Not only that, tell your almshouse neighbours and get them to petition also. You have nothing to lose but your victimhood. It won’t make you a ‘malcontent’ or an ‘ungrateful so-and-so’; you’ll simply become a campaigner for the same rights that every other UK citizen – and non-citizen for that matter – enjoys.
Up to now, we almshouse residents have been seen as easy meat for intimidatory trustees – too timid and deferential for our own good. We have had no platform from which to air our grievances and we are generally not internet savvy. For each actual eviction there must be dozens more instances of intimidation and indignity suffered in silence and isolation. We aim to change that.
Go now to Outlawed!