A widow is calling for a change in the law after discovering private householders do not have the same rights as tenants.
For six years Catrena Tucker, 65, has been plagued by water coming into her house, part of a four-storey block dating from the 1850s.
Surveyors and insurance investigators have identified the water, which soaks the plasterwork leaving a 3ft wide patch on her ceiling, as coming from a rented property that was renovated back in 2011.
Before then the problem didn’t exist, she says.
Now, following six years of frustration, costs of more than £7,000 and constant battling with the landlords that own the home above hers, she says the law should be changed to reflect homeowners’ woes.
“If I was a tenant I would get all the help that I needed. But if you’re a home owner people think you have plenty of money. But I have to maintain my property.
“There’s no legal aid available to me. Kirklees Council says it’s a civil matter. What can I do? It’s Catch 22.”
Catrena bought her two-storey under-dwelling on Gledholt Bank in Gledholt in 1989 with her late husband, Barry, who passed away in 2010. She says their 19th century home was unaffected by water for more than 20 years.
“I never had a problem until the property upstairs was renovated. After that I had a problem. I reported it but the landlord wouldn’t entertain it.
“So I had to have my home tanked in 2015. That cost nearly £5,000. At the time I was working and couldn’t afford it. When I retired from the NHS I paid for it out of my lump sum pension.
“There was still water coming into my lounge. I spent another £2,000 on legal advice and had two surveyors’ reports carried out, which said it was coming from the cellar at the back of my property. And the insurance company said the cellar above was collapsing.
“Yet the landlords don’t seem to think that there is an issue.
“I have always had a suspicion about the water. When the property was renovated I think somebody disturbed a pipe or something.
“Under-dwellings do get a lot of damp, but this is not damp. This is water ingress.”
Last year the neighbouring property was renovated again by new owners James and Lloyd Haworth. They have told Catrena that she is welcome to seek a surveyor’s opinion of their property but have declined to assist her further.
“They said if there was a problem they would sort it. I’m still waiting. I don’t think they have any intention of doing anything. They have not done a survey and have dismissed the insurance company’s report. They won’t do any work. Instead I have to have my house pulled to bits.
“I am fed up of writing letters and ringing people and not getting anywhere. It’s ridiculous. The law should be changed. Private householders should get the same rights as tenants. There should be some governing body that makes them sort the issues out. Landlords are all right when they are getting their rent but they don’t want to spend the money.
“I have no intention of moving out or selling up. I have been happy here. It’s my home.”
Mrs Tucker intends to raise the matter with Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman.
Landlord James Haworth was approached for a comment but failed to respond.