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Gov’t tries forcing elderly couple to sell home for migrant housing: Report

Asylum-seekers wait to be processed outside Penitas, Texas, on March 17, 2021, after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
April 03, 2024

An elderly couple recently claimed that the North Northamptonshire Council sent them a letter threatening to force them to sell their £200,000 house, which they had just moved into, for the government to purchase the property to house asylum seekers.

In February, Jose and Ted Saunders told The Daily Mail that they were “insulted and shocked” when the North Northamptonshire Council sent them a letter claiming that the council could use a compulsory purchase order to require the elderly couple to sell their home so the government could house asylum seekers. The letter claimed that the Rushden property was considered an “empty” or “derelict” property.

“I couldn’t believe it,” 76-year-old Jose Saunders said. “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 letter, which was obtained by The Daily Mail, was titled “Empty Properties and Sites Initiative” and listed the couple’s address in bold print.

“We are writing as we have reason to believe that the above-named premises or land is empty or unused,” the council wrote. “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.”

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The letter noted that the North Northamptonshire Council had witnessed a “considerable increase in positive immigration decisions” on behalf of asylum seekers, especially for single men. As a result of the increase in asylum seekers, the council said it was “struggling” to provide “suitable accommodation” for the asylum seekers.

“The ideal long-term solution would be to provide accommodation by using empty properties which would benefit owners and the project,” the North Northamptonshire Council added.

As part of the letter, the council informed the homeowners that it could issue a compulsory purchase order on the elderly couple’s property, according to The Daily Mail.

After receiving the letter, Jose Saunders and her 78-year-old husband Ted Saunders called the North Northamptonshire Council to ask why the letter had been sent. The Daily Mail reported that three days after contacting the council, the elderly couple received an apology informing them that staff members had mistakenly marked their house for a compulsory purchase.

“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?” Jose Saunders asked. “The answer to this is to stop them coming in the first place, not to force people out of their homes.”