IT IS with absolute disbelief I heard, a few days ago, a number of houseboat owners in the harbour of Bembridge have been evicted from their own properties.
A panel of three judges at a London court has ruled against an appeal by the houseboat owners, giving them a mere one month to vacate.
Bearing in mind most of these houseboats have been in situ since the end of the Second World War, how can this be allowed to happen in a country that appears to give more consideration to the rights of squatters and immigrants?
This issue has been ongoing for four years plus and in the interim has seen disabled/elderly boat owners forced from their homes of many years.
It has also caused severe health problems for others who stayed to fight on. To find themselves 'out on the street’ at pensionable age, with nowhere to go and no monetary reimbursement for the loss of their boats would surely have to be a gross miscarriage of justice.
The person forcing them out is merely the leaseholder of the beach beneath these houseboats, not even the actual owner of the beach.
As you might probably realise, the boats cannot be moved to another location as they would fall apart in the attempt, having been on site for almost 70 years. Plus the cost of even attempting this would be prohibitive for aged pensioners.
None of these boats is seaworthy and craning the houseboats out would block Embankment Road for days, causing mayhem to traffic and access to property.
How can a home of more than 25 to 30 years, in some people’s cases, be deemed to be a 'chattel’ and not a home?
Do these people now have to live off the state to exist? They are not people who have refused to pay their rent, troublemakers or tenants from hell. They are home owners who have been paying mooring fees.
Why has this matter not been made a public issue, why is no one speaking out for this law-abiding, peaceful little group of people?
I would say to any houseboat owner or removable home owner: Beware, you may have the ground removed from under you.