There may be a national housing crisis but social landlord Golding Homes has allowed one of its properties to remain empty for two years.
The semi-detached bungalow in Brogden Crescent, Leeds, near Maidstone, has been vacant since the previous elderly tenant died in November 2021.
Shortly after her death, the housing association had contractors dig two trenches, one at the front and one at the back of the property, apparently investigating whether there was any subsidence.
Subsequently, workmen arrived and took down all the ceilings in the property to remove asbestos.
Finally, they dug exploratory holes in the floor, for reasons unknown.
The work has left the elderly couple living in the attached bungalow next door in some distress.
David Yeo, 76, is disabled as he suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). He has to take oxygen for 16 hours a day.
He said: “We’re worried because if there is subsidence next door or asbestos next door, surely there is in our home too?
“We’ve been told nothing by Golding Homes themselves. The only information we have gleaned has been from talking to the workmen when they came around.
“But nothing has happened on the property now for a year. The rear garden is seriously overgrown. There are rats. And we have a damp patch developing in our home from the wall of the empty bungalow.
“It’s a great shame as it used to be such a nice house.”
Rachel McFarlane, who is executive director of customer experience at Golding Homes, said: “We’re progressing work on this home for new customers to move in as soon as possible.
“The safety of our customers is a priority and with the property vacant we took the opportunity to make sure any repair issues were identified, thoroughly investigated, and addressed.
“This included a detailed report from structural engineers, which raised no concerns.
“We’re sorry for any distress caused to neighbouring customers during this time and would ask anyone with worries to contact us.
“We’ll continue to work with our specialist contractors to complete repairs at the home as soon as possible and hope to have it available for customers to move into in the new year.”
Separately Golding Homes confirmed it had found no evidence of subsidence. However, “asbestos encapsulation and removal” had been carried out. There was currently no asbestos risk at the property.
Mr Yeo said: “The worst thing for us is that we have just been kept in the dark. They have told us nothing.
“It’s all very well saying we should contact them. We’ve tried that many times and just been given the run-around.
“People are desperate for homes. But this has been empty for two years, and nothing has been done on it for a year. It just doesn’t make sense.”