Woman forced to move out of the only home she has ever known

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A woman who has lived her entire life in the same house has been left distraught after being told she now has to find a new home.

Carol Hark has lived at the council-owned property in Medway Road, Gossops Green, Crawley, for 50 years.

Her father George originally held the tenancy but it passed to her mother Audrey when he died in 1998. Now Audrey has also died - and Carol has been told she cannot take over the tenancy.

She said she has been served with a Notice to Quit by Crawley Borough Council with effect from October 3. She said the council’s rules of tenancy succession meant that tenancies could be passed on to only one family member - and that had been her mother.

“I’m so stressed about it all,” said Carol.

“I can’t cope with this; it’s too much. Both my parents died at home. It’s so devastating.”

Carol’s parents first moved to Crawley from London in 1960 and moved into the house in Medway Road.

“My sister was born and then me. I never moved out,” said Carol. “It’s been my home for 50 years. I just can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

Carol was her mother’s carer for the past seven years until she died in August at the age of 86 just a month after being diagnosed with cancer.

“If things had happened differently and my mum died before my dad, this wouldn’t be happening now. The tenancy would then have gone from my dad to me.

“I understand that the council needs houses, but that doesn’t help me because this is my home.”

She said the council had said she would have to move into a one-bedroom flat for which they would provide a fixed two-year tenancy, after which she would probably have to find private accommodation. “I don’t want to be moving every few years. I want to have the security of a home.”

She said the stress was affecting her health and she was now on anti-depressants, suffered from arthritis and had cataracts in both eyes.

A spokesman for Crawley Borough Council said: “We appreciate that this is a difficult time for Ms Hark and have offered her a two-year flexible tenancy to give her the opportunity to plan for alternative housing.

“Ms Hark will be able to remain in her current home until a suitable property becomes available, when the two-year flexible tenancy will begin.

“Our flexible tenancies were introduced to provide short-term stability following bereavements.

“Tenancies can only be passed on once and this has already happened at this property.”