Man who has lived in same house for 66 years given 28 days to leave or clean up

A man is facing eviction from his home of more than 60 years following complaints about mess and ‘dangerous’ items on the property.

Ken May, from Gateshead in north east England, faced his local council in County Court on Wednesday, the culmination of a months-long dispute over the state of his dwelling.

Ken, 67, moved into the home in Standfield Gardens in Wardley back in 1955.

He claims he has made improvements to the property, but that limited access to electricity and no hot water has slowed down his progress.

He told the courtroom had had complied to the “best of [his] ability” with the promises he had formerly made in court, Chronicle Live reported.

“I have reduced to zero my arrears, I have cleared up the house – I have de-cluttered it.

“I have complied with my promise to tidy the garden up – I have trimmed the hedges… even though it belongs to the other neighbour – I did that with the agreement of my neighbour,” he said.

“When I have been asked to facilitate safety inspections I have complied,” he added.

The court heard that Mr May, who doesn’t have access to mains electricity or gas, has been powering his home using car batteries charged up with a petrol generator.

He also argued that the authority was breaching human rights legislation by enforcing the eviction.

During the cross examination solicitor Shada Mellor, representing Gateshead Council, said that Mr May’s electricity had been disconnected after the supplier found out he was by-passing the meter.

She also stated that the former merchant seaman hadn’t always let staff in to inspect his home.

“You refer to making promises to the court; that was at the hearing February 3, 2020,” she said.

“That was over a year and a half ago. Any of these improvements should have been improved and finished by now.

“You have had a significant period of time to get things back in order. The conditions of the property’s tenancy agreement requires you to keep it neat and tidy and dispose of your rubbish properly.

“They sent you a letter on August 12 asking if they could look at the property, you declined.

Mellor said there was a condition in the tenancy agreement that the tenant must not do anything that could cause damage.

She continued on to say the reason Ken didn’t have electricity or power at the property was because he hadn’t paid any charges and had by-passed his electricity meter.

“Your property is in no better condition than it was a year and a half ago,” she said.

“You have got items in your property that are dangerous to yourself and others.”

Mr May told the judge that he didn’t feel comfortable letting people into his home during the coronavirus pandemic.

The court also heard from a neighbourhood relations officer employed by the authority, who said there had been improvements to the kitchen and living room, but no significant changes over all.

The housing worker also said that using a petrol generator to charge car batteries was dangerous and that “dangerous materials” stored in the house were a “health risk”.

“The house could go up into flames, there could be an explosion because of the fuel you’re storing,” she said.

District Judge Charnock-Neal made the possession order, saying that it wasn’t in breach of human rights legislation and that housing law allows for eviction of tenants that allow properties to deteriorate.

Evidence given by the neighbourhood relations offer proved there had been substantial efforts made by council to resolve matters, she said, but there had been an increasing amount of frustration over the defendant’s lack of engagement.

“Storing fuel including petrol and Calor gas could cause danger. He failed to keep his home neat, tidy and clean, evidenced from the photo I have seen from 2018-2021,” she said.

“He failed to dispose of rubbish left in his shed, lean to, and garden. In contrast to the claimant the defendant offered limited evidence.

“His reason for not offering entry to the property was his age. He offered no medical evidence that he was shielding. The Government stated high risk ages were over 70.”

Mr May was told he has 28 days to vacate the property, however if he can show evidence that he has cleaned it up he can apply at court for eviction proceedings to be halted.