A FAMILY have told of their relief at getting their home back after months of living in a caravan.
Ed Goncalves and his family moved out when he was in Great Ormond Street hospital donating his son Luis a kidney in a life-saving operation.
But the people to whom they let the house failed to pay the rent. And when Gosport Borough Council went to evict the tenants they had gone. They left the house looking like a tip.
Dawn Clark, 33, racked up thousands in housing arrears and refused to leave their home when ordered to.
Ed said: ‘It’s been difficult because of Luis’ health problems and then not being able to come home after he’s finally been discharged from hospital after months and months has been very difficult for him.
‘He wanted to get home and put all of that behind him.
‘This is a relief, but we’ve got to get this place cleaned up. There’s a bit of mess. It’s nice to know that we finally are back in after so many weeks and months of waiting. The main thing is Luis’ health and wellbeing.’
But Ed has criticised the council for the length of time it has taken to get the family back into their home.
‘One thing that’s disappointing is that the council was telling the tenants to stay put even after they got the court order,’ he said.
‘I know that the council has challenges managing its housing stock and people who are on the waiting lists. But that’s no way to treat people.
‘It’s prolonged the agony for Luis. It’s potentially put him at risk as well.
‘A lot of people have been astonished that the council wasn’t moving heaven and earth to make sure that Luis didn’t end up homeless.’
Council leader Mark Hook said the authority had followed the standard practice.
‘There are proper procedures that tenants have to go through,’ he said.
‘If they left early then they may well have made themselves homeless and we aren’t bound to house them.
‘If we allowed this one to go through then it would open the floodgates for everyone to say “I’m about to be evicted and you need to house me”.
‘It’s normal practice. They stay there until the eviction date.
‘It may not be the most pleasant of things to have to do but we have to adhere to the law. We wouldn’t have done it any differently.’
And Ed said Luis is recovering well and is excited to move back home.
‘He’s doing great,’ he added.
‘He’s happy and he was doing a little victory dance and I think he’s just looking forward to getting home.
‘Hopefully in a few days once we’ve cleaned the place up we’ll be able to do that and he’ll be able to have a messy bedroom like any normal kid and he’ll be able to get on with his life again.’
Ms Clark was meant to be out of the Goncalves’ family home in Broadsands Drive, Gosport, where she lived with her three children, by June 4.
Ms Clark was unavailable for comment last night.