By Lucy Clapham
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
A woman is fighting to stay in the Great Yarmouth home where she has lived for more than 25 years after the council brought her to court claiming she is trespassing.
Sharon Rae says she has lived in the council property in Stephenson Close since 1983 when her parents first moved in, but Great Yarmouth Borough Council has brought a case to move her out of the ground floor flat, as it alleges she is trespassing.
The authority says her living there is also over occupation of the two- bedroom home – which was let to her father – and she is renting another property in the town.
Norwich County Court, sitting at Great Yarmouth, heard that when her father’s health deteriorated in 2010 Miss Rae, 52, moved out of Stephenson Close into a flat in nearby Cunningham Avenue.
But she moved back to Stephenson Close in April 2011 to look after her father until his death in June 2012, and has since remained in the property, while continuing to rent her Cunningham Avenue flat for which she claims housing benefit.
Sarah Smy, for the council, told the court Miss Rae – who suffers from ME – had been asked to produce evidence she had occupied Stephenson Close for 12 months prior to the death of her father, and had a right to stay there. None had been forthcoming.
Miss Smy added: “Even if it had, other people have a priority need for a two-bedroom property and she would be found alternative accommodation. In any event she has got an alternative property (that she’s) renting herself, which I appreciate she’s not terribly keen on returning to. It’s got a walk-in shower rather than a bath.
“Matters are in hand to try to find her alternative accommodation; they’re looking at a ground floor one- bedroom flat with bath so she can move in and be happier.”
Miss Rae, who was in tears throughout yesterday’s hearing, told the court she moved out of her father’s flat as “things were so bad”.
She added: “I had to go and seek help with the council to get a flat because my dad’s behaviour with his health and everything had dramatically changed.
“I told the council my flat wasn’t suitable, (I was) trying to get sorted out. Dad wanted to put me on the tenancy, (the) tenancy form to fill in came two days after he died.”
She told the judge she had to borrow money to “pay the rent” and “can’t afford” court costs.
District judge Robert Sparrow told her most of her “difficulties” had arisen “as a result of being a tenant of another property and having an obligation to pay rent there”.
As she had no representation he adjourned the hearing to allow Miss Rae to present her case. He said: “I want to make sure that all Miss Rae wants to say is before the court.”
Mr Sparrow said the over occupancy of the flat was a “different issue” and he was dealing with the question of whether or not Miss Rae is a “trespasser in the sense she has no right to live there following the death of her father”.
The case was adjourned until February 19.