'This is all I've got' - Woman fighting to keep home where mum died

Andrea Godsell is currently in a housing battle with the council. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Andrea Godsell is currently in a housing battle with the council. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Archant

An Ipswich mum is facing eviction from her family home following the death of her mother after the council said the house is now too big for her needs. 

Andrea Godsell, a 46-year-old barber, has been fighting to be allowed to stay in the family home where her mum died in July last year.  

Ms Godsell said she believed she had been put on the tenancy at the property after receiving the devastating news about her mother. 

But Ipswich Borough Council said Ms Godsell is "not eligible to succeed the tenancy" following her mum's death. 

Andrea and her mother in happier times

Andrea and her mother in happier times - Credit: Andrea Godsell

"My mum was told around Christmas in 2020 that she had a shadow on her lungs but treatment was unavailable because of Covid," Ms Godsell said. 

"And then in April the doctors told us she only had three months to live. She was only 66. 

"She phoned the council straight away about joint tenancy, about me going on the tenancy, and was told this was possible. She put it into writing, we've got the letters.  

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"My son had been living here since 2019, I was in one-bedroom temporary accommodation, the council enquired about my income when we sent everything off and when we didn't hear back we assumed it'd all gone through." 

Four days after Ms Godsell's birthday in 2021, her mother died and just over a week later she called to inform the council's housing department. 

"They said I wasn't on the tenancy, even though we'd never heard that it hadn't gone through, and they said they'd be evicting me - but I could have any other three-bed house I want in Ipswich," she said. 

A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said: "The council must follow legislation about when people can succeed to tenancies and in this case, Ms Godsell is not eligible to succeed to the tenancy held by her late mother. 

"Her late mother's house is bigger than Ms Godsell's needs. It is classed as a four-bedroomed house and there is a very high demand for four-bedroom properties and there are not sufficient properties to meet demand.  

"The council currently has 51 families in Band B on Gateway to Homechoice waiting for this type of accommodation. 

"The council has tried to work with Ms Godsell to help find her a suitable property that meets her needs and we will continue to try to do so."

Andrea Godsell is currently in a housing battle with the council. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Her neighbours have supported her in staying in the family home. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Archant

Ms Godsell said that her home is a three-bedroom with a parlour room downstairs. 

Currently used as a dining area, this was the room her mother was using in the final days of her life. 

The selection of homes offered to Ms Godsell on Gateway to Homechoice are also three-bedroom houses with parlours, she said.  

Neighbours have written to the council to express their opinion that she should be able to stay and a petition has gathered more than 300 signatures. 

"The council is saying by February 20 my time is up and if I haven't bid on any new homes by then they'll look at eviction or the courts," she said. 

"I just think... why? My mum did all this work in the house. She sanded all these floors, she put the log-burner in.  

"It's a lovely house. We're not rich but my mum spent time on it. 

"If I was under-occupying I'd understand. But the other houses I'm eligible to bid on are the same, they're just not in this area. 

"I work here, my son goes to college here, and I don't have any other family left. I've got one half-sister left and my kids, so I need to be around here. This is all I've got.  

"My mum hasn't even been dead six months; I've still got her ashes here. And she didn't want a grave, she wanted us to put her in the garden. But I can't do that because if they kick me out, she'll be here and I won't be. 

"So I've just been fighting. From two weeks after she died, this is all I've been doing every day. It's been so traumatic. 

"I've just lost my mum, now they want me to lose the house where my mum died." 

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt hopes there will be more support for the hospitality sector if Suffolk ends up in Tier 2. Picture...

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt hopes there will be more support for the hospitality sector if Suffolk ends up in Tier 2. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Tom Hunt, MP for Ipswich, said: "I really hope that Andrea will be able to remain in her house, which evidently has very strong emotional ties for her.  

"I fully support her case and will continue to do whatever I can to help her situation.  

"When we met in November to discuss the case it was clear to me that she has good reason to remain in this house. 

"Unfortunately this is a case for the borough council, but I really hope that they will be sympathetic to Andrea's situation too."