Two daughters who lost their mother to coronavirus now face being kicked out of the family’s rented home because the tenancy ended with their parent’s death.
Much-loved cafe worker Kyra King died aged 48 last month, just weeks after contracting coronavirus, meaning her devastated daughter Courtney Johnson, 23, is now set to take legal responsibility for her sister Milly, 16, who is currently living with her.
Kyra had rented a four-bedroom property in Bevan Lee Road in Cannock, Staffordshire, for 15 years before her death.
Yet Courtney, who is herself a mother of one, has now been told she cannot take over the tenancy of the long-term family home.
Instead, Milly is being forced to sleep on the settee at her three-bedroomed home, which she shares with her partner, her own three-year-old and his two children.
The family is now appealing to Sanctuary Housing to reverse the decision and have gathered 26,000 signatures on an online petition.
Courtney Johnson, pictured left, is now set to legally become the guardian of her sister Milly, following the death of their mother, Kyra King, pictured right
Support worker Courtney said: ‘It means everything to me and Milly to live in my mum’s house. This is our family home, where our memories are.
‘My mum’s passed away and now they’re trying to take the house from us. This house is everything and more, we grew up in this house, and all our friends live on this estate.
‘The younger sibling’s friend, her best friend lives right next door, who actually helped look after my sister when my mum was in hospital.
‘I can’t explain to you how much staying in this house means to us.
‘The house that I’m currently renting, it’s a brand new house and I love it. But I don’t care about all that. It’s nothing. It’s the memories and my sister’s welfare that means more to me.
‘I really don’t care what house it is, I care that it’s my mum’s house and is full of memories.’
Mother-of-five Kyra fell ill with Covid over Christmas and was bedbound from New Year’s Day. She was later rushed to hospital after suffering with breathing difficulties.
She was eventually placed in a coma but died on February 2 after developing pneumonia.
Support worker Courtney said: ‘The day she passed away I actually had all my siblings with me and we were just setting up a Zoom meeting because even though my mum was in a coma, we were able to do Zoom meetings because they said that she could hear us.
‘So I rang the hospital and said, ‘Can we set up a Zoom meeting for 7 o’clock?’ and they said yes and then within 20 minutes we had a phone call to say ‘You need to come over to the hospital, your mum’s now produced blood clots on her lungs, her blood oxygen levels have dropped to five, any minute now she’s going to have a heart attack and her brain’s going to shut down’.
‘So we had to go to the hospital and turn the machine off.’
Courtney, who is herself a mother of one, has now been told she cannot take over the tenancy of the long-term family home in Staffordshire
As well as Courtney, Kyra left behind an older son Jordan, 27, as well as a younger 10-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son, who are now living with their dad, who is also Milly’s father.
Courtney said: ‘It was my mum’s wish that Milly live with me and she wanted to stay with me and that’s the agreement I have had with her dad.
‘Her dad lives nearby and is very supportive and we’re in the middle of finalising the guardianship.’
Courtney rents a property in Crab Lane, Cannock, which she shares with her three-year-old daughter, her partner and his two children who stay over four days a week.
That means that Milly has to currently sleep on her settee.
Courtney said: ‘I’m just trying to be as strong as I can but Milly’s not sleeping, she’s constantly crying, she’s asking when she can go home.
‘She’s suffering quite badly. I’m there for her all the way, she knows I’m there and she knows she can talk to me which is good.
‘She’s in Year 11, in the middle of doing her mock exams and she doesn’t feel she’s even got the headspace for it at the moment.
‘With her sleeping at mine on my sofa she feels like she hasn’t got the time to study.
‘I’ve got three bedrooms, my daughter has a bedroom, I have a bedroom and my partner’s children who come four times a week have a bedroom.
The family is now appealing to Sanctuary Housing to reverse the decision and have gathered 26,000 signatures on an online petition
‘I’ve told Sanctuary I can afford the rent and that I’ll give them three months up front if they want.
‘It’s the house, it’s the memories, it’s where we all grew up, it’s where the grandchildren grew up.
‘We all grew up here. Even though my daughter never lived here, she grew up here because she was always here with me.
‘I was here every day with my mum.’
She added: ‘They haven’t taken the house away yet. They rang me yesterday and said there’s a couple of weeks before they put the house up for rent.
‘At the moment the house has still got a lot of my mum’s furniture in. We’ve got a couple of weeks until the house has to be emptied.
‘They’re saying no to Milly and I having the house because they say we haven’t got succession.
‘If Milly was 18 she would automatically have succession to the house because she’s lived here for the 12 years, but because she’s 16 she can’t have the house and because I haven’t lived at the house since I was 16/17. I’m not on the tenancy so they’re saying I can’t take it on.
‘I asked them if it was because of the number of bedrooms and they said it wasn’t really because of that.
‘It’s because of the succession. ‘None of you succeed the tenancy, we can’t hand it over to any of you’. I’ve even offered to buy the property and they’ve said no.’
Sanctuary Housing said: ‘We were saddened to hear Miss King had passed away and our thoughts remain with her whole family following their loss. Work is continuing to ensure the housing needs of all the family members are considered.’