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House falling to pieces and owner doesn't care(12 Posts)
I'm wondering if anyone can give any advice, or at least point me in the right direction.
My uncle has owned his house since 1989. The mortgage is long paid off. In 1994, his wife left him. Since then, the house has not been cleaned once (I am not joking when I say this). The front and back garden are overgrown and full of rubbish. Several windows are smashed and covered with old planks of wood. The garage roof has fallen in. The whole house stinks of staleness. This is just a selection of the problem, there is far more as well. Uncle says that he can't afford the repairs needed.
My uncle has no children, and no partner. He lives in the house alone. He is retired. We are in England.
We have suggested to him many times over the years that he moves somewhere more manageable. He refuses.
The house is in a decent area, and it is a massive eyesore. I feel awful for his neighbors as I imagine uncle's house brings the street value down (it really is that bad). My uncle is getting older and needs to move whilst he's still in the right frame of mind.
I remember hearing a few years ago that the council can force a house sale under certain circumstances? This is what I'm considering as my next step. Does anyone know how it works, or who I should speak to?
Thank you in advance.
I don’t think they could force a sale straight off but contact the planning enforcement officer first to discuss.
The council can serve an ‘amenity’ notice on the owner of any land or building which is in an unreasonably untidy condition and we consider has an adverse effect on the amenity of the area. This is done under section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended)
Is your uncle in any danger? Is he vulnerable? I'm not sure you can force a sale just because he isn't cleaning his house and it's fallen into disrepair. Have you thought about getting him some help to deal with (what sounds like) his depression?
You don’t mention that he lacks capacity. In the circumstances you absolutely cannot force him to sell. He has the right to live in his own house and can do so free of interference from family if he chooses. I’m concerned for him that you feel it’s your place to try and force him to move against his will.
I appreciate that I may be coming across as a bit of a busybody; I'm really not. This post comes from a place of genuine concern for my uncle.
My house is no show home, but my uncle's is uninhabitable (in my opinion). As well as the problems mentioned in my op, the house has no heating; the electricity only works in half the rooms, so there are cable extensions everywhere; I strongly suspect that the main roof will cave in soon (damp and drips). The problems far extend beyond a bit of mess.
My uncle is 70, but relatively healthy. However, I strongly suspect that he has undiagnosed autism (which is a whole other thread). And yes, I agree with the poster who suggested that he may also have depression. He never got over his wife leaving him. She left him for another man and moved to another country in a matter of weeks. Her stuff is still in the house, even though she left 25+ years ago.
It's a sad case really. I really think that getting him out of 5e house may help him finally move on.
If he's generally sound of mind you may be able to do nothing about the house till something big happens, like the roof coming in. It might be the environmental health would state it unfit to live in at that point. Do you and the family give him much emotional support?
look up the environmental health team of his local council. it might have a section on vermin (garden) and properties in dangerous disrepair.
Ohhh, I do feel for you. It's horrible being on the other side looking in. I have a relative who is in a slightly similar position though definitely to a lesser extent. They are holding on to memories due to a deceased spouse and there is no way we could part them from the house. They were initially a bit oblivious to the state they had found themselves in after many years of hoarding and letting things go - and then after lots of attempts at intervention, they have firmly refused to engage or even discuss it. And this is the problem, isn't it? You risk alienating them all together and making it even worse.
It's like sitting back and waiting for something to happen.
Can social services help at all?
No real advice but I wanted to say you're not alone and it's good he has someone looking out for him.
It may be a good idea to contact social services and ask them to carry out an assessment of needs.
Friends of mine had similar situation. They live in a detached house in an upmarket street in London suburbs. The house next door was left to rack and ruin by the (wealthy) owners. Only big difference is - they didnt live there. Birds nesting inside as top windows broken. Was like something out of "The Birds"
Council warned them over many years. All ignored. Eventually a compulsory order was made. It took many years to work through the process - court, valuations etc. Eventually the owners were forced to hand over to council for the amount valued by surveyor. The house was bought, gutted and now a beautiful home!
The council * will * get involved, especially from a safety point of view.
BTW - the case about is all public information available to read on line!
Thanks everyone. It feels good just to be talking about this, as it has become a bit of an "elephant in the room" for our family.
Sadly, my uncle won't engage with any discussions about the house. He won't even accept little bits of help. For example, I have offered many times to come round and spend a few hours cleaning, yet he always says no. I've even offered him nice furniture from my house to replace his very old stuff, but he won't have it. He says he likes things the way they are. To be fair, even though I suspect that depression plays a part in all this, my uncle is quite a relaxed, chilled, person most of the time.
In regards to mental health help, he won't engage with that either. He can be a bit toxically masculine, and reliant upon stereotypes. He has very archaic views about mental health. When we tried to get him to talk to the gp a few years back, he seemed to think that the only treatment available for mental health was in a "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" type facility. He doesn't seem to understand that times have moved on, and therapy etc. is available now.
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