A 60-year-old man is being thrown out on the street after the council grabbed his £800,000 house to cover the cost of his mother’s care home.
Frank Walker’s house in Gellatly Road, Nunhead, is being seized by town hall social workers to pay a bill to look after his ailing mum, 83 – a great-grandmother.
If he had been served the eviction notice five weeks later, he would by then have turned 60, so could not have been legally made homeless.
But the father-of-three – and grandfather-of-three – has not been told how much he owes, so has no way of knowing whether he could raise the money himself by renting out the four-bedroom property and moving somewhere smaller. And he was given no say in which home she was sent to.
“I could owe £10 or it could be £10,000 – they just won’t tell me,” he said. “No one has ever given me even so much as a guess. Not even the judge at the county court, which confirmed my eviction, could tell me.
“I could either rent it out through Airbnb or sell it for something smaller. But I have never been given the option or the chance to negotiate. And at the moment I have no more than £5 in my pocket.
“I had all my bags packed on Wednesday – I could not find room for my stuff let alone all my mother’s belongings. It is the house she worked for all her life – she told me never to sell it.
“I have not got a clue what to do. I have never been homeless before. The only home I have ever known is the house I was brought up in, in Brixton Water Lane in Brixton, and this house for the last 13 years since I came to look after my mum.
“The timing of it stinks.”
His mother, Marion Chapman, a former nurse who lost her job at King’s College Hospital in Camberwell when she suffered a slipped disk, bought the house in 1978. She was offered home helps when caring for her became a struggle.
But she deteriorated and was diagnosed with dementia. He claims his mother was taken to King’s College Hospital just for a blood test – only to be driven straight to the home without his consent.
In 2019, Lewisham council took out a “deputyship” over her – giving them absolute power over her property, in order to sell her house and pay the care home fees.
Mr Walker, a former licensee who worked in Victoria, was given 14 days to move out after a case at Bromley County Court on July 1.
He has also been told to pay a total of £550 in court and Lewisham council costs.
Neighbour Rosalind Archer, who is lobbying Lewisham on his behalf, said: “He’s overwhelmed, extremely panicked and in shock.
“To make a 60-year-old man homeless to pay his mother’s care home fees is not just morally wrong, it seems technically wrong and based on extremely questionable grounds. It also makes dubious financial sense. I think the council is breaching a duty of care to him as a resident.
“To take away a person’s home at this age when they have no resources, no viable alternative accommodation and no way to start over, seems fundamental breach of human rights – and if it isn’t, it should be.”
A Lewisham council spokesman said: “We do not recognise Mr Walker’s account of events. We have been in contact with him since 2016 and have offered him clear guidance over the years. We have at all times acted in accordance with the spirit and letter of the law.
We continue to urge him to work with us.”
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.