An 87-year-old grandmother from the UK has been forcibly evicted from her home on Wednesday after bailiffs smashed down her door and forced her out onto the street.
May Appleton and her sons say that bailiffs turned up to her home in Northwich, England and gave the family 30 minutes to leave the property while they smashed windows and broke down doors.
Brian Appleton, 61, May’s eldest son, said: “They got a sledgehammer to the door and smashed the window at the top – the glass went all over Mark and cut his hand and went halfway up the stairs.
“All this time mum was stood in the living room shouting and screaming ‘leave my house alone, leave my things alone’.
“Both Mark and Paul held off at the front door and they came round the back, we kept them off for 25 minutes but in the end they drilled the locks off.
“They chucked all my mum’s stuff out on the front garden and trod all over it.
“She was devastated, she was screaming.”
May, 87, has lived in the Lostock Gralam house with her sons Brian, Mark, 51, and Paul, 49, since it was built.
They have been locked in a three-year battle with landlord Weaver Vale Housing Trust over their possessions, which the trust classed as hoarding and said was a fire hazard.
The trust said the family needed to get rid of their hoarded items to comply with their tenancy agreement.
The family argued that the items represent a lifetime of precious memories.
Bailiffs attempted to evict May and her sons on Friday, March 4, but left without success.
They they served the family with a notice to say that they could be evicted any time after 2pm on Wednesday, March 9.
May and her youngest son Paul were checked over by paramedics after the eviction this morning.
The house has now been boarded up and the Appletons have been put up in the Travelodge, in Lostock, for one night.
Brian said: “They were concerned about my mum’s health but just carried on pushing it through.
“We’re at the Travelodge now but where we will be tomorrow night I don’t know.”
Judith Burbidge, director of neighbourhoods at Weaver Vale Housing Trust, said: “We have arranged and paid for temporary local accommodation for a week for the family.
“We are aware that the family have made contact with Cheshire West and Chester Council’s housing solutions team and social services who are assisting the family with finding long term accommodation.
“An eviction is always our last resort but in this case we have to put the safety of the family, neighbours and anyone else entering the home first.
“We have tried every option open to us over the course of three years, including the offer to install a sprinkler system in the home and offering to clear and store the items safely, but Mrs Appleton and her sons have continued to refuse all offers of help to reduce the fire risk to both themselves and visitors entering the home, including fire fighters. “We have had almost daily contact with the family to try to find a solution.
“Once the bailiffs took possession of the property, a full safety inspection was carried out.
“The house was then made secure before the removal and safe and secure storage of all the Appletons’ items.”
Mark Cashin, deputy chief officer at Cheshire Fire and Rescue, said: “Hoarding certainly is a growing issue for fire and rescue services.
“It presents significant risks for individuals, communities and firefighters.
“This is not about us telling people how they should live their lives it is about keeping people and firefighters safe, something that we have a responsibility to do.
“Fires in the homes of hoarders have resulted in several deaths and have in some incidences put the lives of fire crews in extreme danger.”
Judith added: “Both Cheshire West and Chester Council’s social services team and the local church made last ditch attempts last week to work with the family, to try mediate on our behalf and find a solution, however this was unsuccessful.”