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Guest blog by Niki

This year I marked my 25th birthday by staying up all night, but it wasn’t a party.

I was sat on a pile of furniture I was using to block the open entrance to my home.

Earlier in the evening, two men arrived at my door. They said my landlord had told them to take away the front door for repairs leaving the flat open to the world. It was an obvious attempt to evict me illegally, but I couldn’t get help to stop it.

I had lost my job as a chef during the long lockdown in Glasgow but during winter I took up delivering takeaway food by bike. Cycling all over the city in winter was hard and by the time I had paid my rent I had no money left for food. I was relying on friends to feed me.

By March I was exhausted. I quit and focused full-time on finding a job. It worked. I was hired in a small bakery. But I missed one rent payment.

It should have been ok because there are rules in Scotland. I should have had time to pay back overdue rent. And at that time Glasgow was in level four and it wasn’t possible to evict me from my home legally. That meant nothing to my landlord. He just wanted me to go.

I was watching a movie and waiting for my girlfriend to visit when the landlord’s agent turned up. I thought he was coming round to discuss it but when I answered the door it was him and another man. When I said I had nowhere to go and couldn’t leave immediately the agent got angry with me and brought out a screwdriver and said ‘This door needs to be repaired. We’re taking it away’. They just left me standing there with no front door. No way to secure the valuable things in my home. No way to sleep. No way to leave to go to work.

I called the police and the officers who came round again said it was a civil matter and the landlord had the right to do what he wanted to with his property.

I stayed awake all night sitting on the sofa in front of an internal door that I moved to fill the space. Too paranoid and too scared to sleep.

The next day I spoke with Shelter Scotland who advised that the police should recognise this for what it was: an illegal eviction and a criminal offence. But a charity can’t enforce the law. I decided I had no choice but to leave. I had an eight-hour shift at my new job, and I needed all my belongings to be safe.

The illegal eviction and the lack of action by the police has made me feel left out. I am a citizen of colour. I didn’t have good experiences with the police before, especially as in Italy they’re very racist. Coming here I thought Scotland was my home now and I hoped it would be different. After staying here five years, working hard, paying taxes. Seeing the police basically ignore me made me feel left out again.

I kept calling the police and eventually, an Inspector did come to see me and told me it was a criminal matter and that his colleagues didn’t know much about the issue of illegal evictions.

There is this ignorance and landlords will exploit this. I think that needs to change. People should know what’s right and what’s wrong. If the first police officer I had called had known the landlord’s agent was committing a crime and stopped him, I would have been safer sooner.

Please share this story and make sure more people know that landlords should follow a legal process and obtain an eviction order which must be enforced by sheriff officers. If they don’t, they’re breaking the law.”

If you’re at risk of eviction, make sure you know your rights 

Will you join the movement to defend the right to a safe home and stand with people like Niki? Join our campaign.