Widow evicted from home after husband's death due to hostile environment policy
Exclusive: Nasra Nur left 'suicidal' after being told she must 'urgently' vacate house because of Home Office rules
Nasra Nur, 38, who lives in Leicester, said she had been left suicidal after being told by her housing provider that she must “urgently” vacate her property just four months after her British husband, Sharif Ibrahim, died of kidney failure and heart disease.
The Somali national was informed by housing provider PA Housing that she could not succeed Mr Ibrahim's tenancy due to her irregular immigration status, in line with the government's the right to rent policy, which requires landlords to check the status of prospective tenants.
She has been warned that she has until 22 December to leave the premises and return the keys to the provider, which she fears will leave her on the street.
The right to rent policy is a key branch of the Home Office's attempt to create a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants, and has been widely criticised for having “disastrous consequences” for people who risk homelessness as a result.
Ms Nur arrived in Britain as an asylum seeker in 2009 after fleeing violence in her home country, but her initial asylum claim was refused. She met Mr Ibrahim in 2010 and instead of appealing the asylum decision decided to marry him in the belief that this would grant her UK status.
The 38-year-old has since been a house wife and, since her husband fell ill four years ago, has cared for him full-time, during which she said she has never been questioned by the authorities about her immigration status.
She said Mr Ibrahim, 45, was "very controlling and abusive" towards her and would isolate her and prevent her from making friends, meaning she became largely reliant on him.
Speaking to The Independent, Ms Nur said: “I am devastated, I am on my own. My husband has passed away and suddenly I have no one. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I feel like I have no options.
“I gave everything to my husband. My whole life revolved around looking after him. Now I am on my own and it’s scary. I feel like I can’t go on.”
Campaigners said the right to rent policy was a “big issue” for people who have not regulated their immigration status, and that it was driving up the numbers of people rough sleeping across Britain.
Said Salim, chief executive at charity British & Muslim, which is supported Ms Nur in trying to regulate her immigration status, said the policy was leaving vulnerable people "between a rock and a hard place".
He said: “We’ve had a lot of users coming to who have sought housing support from local authorities and been told they cannot get a place, even if they have social needs, because they don’t have papers.
"The council basically cannot help people because the Home Office has tied their hands. Then they go to the private sector who tell them the Home Office will not allow them to help either.
“The government keep saying they are trying to do everything about rough sleeping, but they are actually missing a big component which is these very vulnerable people who are being forced into destitution.”
It comes after the High Court ruled in March that the right to rent scheme was causing racial discrimination and violating human rights law – a ruling that is now being appealed by the Home Office.
Chai Patel, legal policy director at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, which is fighting the court case, said: “At a hugely traumatic time of her life, this woman faces losing her home because her landlord is being forced by government policy to evict her.
"Nothing can justify this cruelty. Landlord immigration checks and the hostile environment must be scrapped.”
Patrick Taylor, executive director of customer service at PA Housing, said: “When Mr Ibrahim died earlier this year he had a sole tenancy at the property he rented from us in Leicester.
“Under the terms of Home Office’s right to rent policy we are prevented from offering a tenancy to an individual who does not have the right to remain in the UK.
“In Mrs Nur’s case we have been liaising with the British & Muslim’s advocacy services who are supporting her to resolve her legal status.”