Officials try to force elderly British couple to sell home to make room for migrants

An elderly British couple says their council is attempting to force them to sell their home to so-called asylum seekers.

Jose and Ted Saunders, ages 76 and 78, say they received a strongly-worded letter from the North Northamptonshire Council suggesting that the home they had recently purchased for €200,000 could be seized by the government.
 

"I couldn't believe it," said Jose. "We moved to Rushden to help provide childcare for my grand-daughter and found this nice little place to live. The idea of forcing us to sell it to make room for refugees and asylum seekers seems totally wrong."

The council claims that Saunders' property in Rushden could be subject to compulsory purchase and used to house migrants. The letter states that their home has been deemed to be "derelict," or an empty property, thus the council could force them to sell it.


 

The letter, according to the Daily Mail, from the North Northamptonshire Council reads: "We are writing as we have reason to believe that the above-named premises…is empty or unused."

"The Government has identified empty privately-owned properties as a potential cause of blight within communities, and as a wasted resource at time of high housing need," it continues.

The letter also stated that the council was "struggling" to find appropriate lodging for asylum seekers, who were primarily single men, and that there was a "considerable increase" in positive immigration judgments being made in their favor.

"The ideal long-term solution would be to provide accommodation by using empty properties which would benefit owners and the project," the letter adds, with the council informing the couple that their residence is now subject to a compulsory purchase order.

Jose explains, "It was all the more worrying as we'd only moved in last November, so we still hadn't received the deeds for the house."

The Saunders called the council for clarification and were then issued an apology three days later saying that their residence had been ear-marked for compulsory purchase by mistake.
 

"What on earth is the council doing forcing people to sell their houses – and even an empty house is owned by someone – so that asylum seekers can live in them?" asks Jose in an interview.

"The answer to this is to stop them coming in the first place, not to force people out of their homes," she adds.

Jason Smithers, Leader of North Northamptonshire Council, apologized for any "undue distress" the mistake may have caused and told the outlet in a statement: "North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) is working with owners of long-term empty properties to bring their property back into use. Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) are not utilised to 'oust' current owners from their properties, they are a tool used as a very last resort to bring empty properties, which are a valuable and much need housing resource, back into use."

"The 'empty property initiative letters' were sent out in a bid to assist empty property owners to bring their property back into use, and on the whole, the support from NNC was gratefully received. Since NNC formed in 2021, no properties have been purchased by CPO. This is a mechanism of last resort to bring problematic, long term empty properties back into use," says Smithers.

"Unfortunately, in this case, records held by NNC were outdated, and the letter was incorrectly sent to a property which was occupied. For this I am very sorry for causing any undue distress and worry," he adds.


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