Brothers of well-known Gosport family forced to leave council home after mum's sudden death

HEARTBROKEN siblings have said their life has been ‘ripped apart’ after being told they can no longer stay in their family home following the sudden death of their mother.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 5:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 10:40 am

Brothers Doug and Steve Gonella, 31, have been told by Gosport Borough Council they must leave their home of more than 30 years in Southway, Bridgemary.

The pair had hoped to take over the tenancy of the three-bedroom council house after their mum, Denise, suffered a fatal heart attack on November 29.

And although the authority agreed for the one of the brothers to take on the tenancy, it refused to allow the pair to remain in Southway, and said they must move to a small property elsewhere.

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Pictured left to right: Steven Gonella (31) with his sister Zoe Gonella (29), brother Doug Gonella (27) and Zoe's children (front l-r) Eli Gonella (3) and Zain Gonella (8). Picture: Sarah Standing (110321-2274)

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Doug, 27, said the family was crushed by the decision. He said: ‘This is completely devastating. This has been our family home for 33 years. Our pets are buried here. It has so much sentimental value. Now that’s all just been ripped away.

‘All our memories with mum are here. We just don’t know what to do any more.’

Doug added he had hoped he and his brother could buy the house outright but claimed he was told by a housing officer they’d have ‘no chance’ in such a bid.

Denise Gonella in 1999

In a double blow, the brothers now worried they may have to sell off their army of pets – which include three cats, a 101-year-old female tortoise called Toby, nine canaries and hundreds of fish in two large, tropical fish tanks.

‘I just don’t know what we’re going to do. I have no idea,’ Doug added. ‘What the council hasn’t taken into consideration is that we have an aviary with birds in the back garden and elderly animals living in the property.

‘They’re losing their homes now too and they won’t understand why. We’re worried that we will have to break up the family and sell some of our pets if we move to another property where they can’t fit.

‘My sister is only allowed two roaming animals and we already have three. That’s going to cause trouble instantly.’

Doug Gonella and his brother Steven are battling to save their family home in Bridgemary from Gosport Borough Council. The house had been the home of their mother for more than 30 years. She died in November 2020 and the two boys want to buy the home. But the council has refused this and they now face being moved elsewhere. Pictured is: (l-r) Steven Gonella (31) and his brother Doug (27). Picture: Sarah Standing (110321-4782)

Housing rules say people can stay in a council or housing association home if the person named on the tenancy agreement dies.

The rule is known as succession and means they can then take on the tenancy agreement.

However, the borough council said that although one of the brothers now has ‘rights to a tenancy’ it ‘doesn't give a right to a particular property’.

A spokesman added: ‘We do understand the attachment he and his brother have to this house, but we have to match housing to people's needs.

‘Their need is for a two-bedroomed property. We have 141 families in the borough waiting for a three-bedroomed house, and this property would provide a much-needed home for one of these families.'

Doug branded the decision ‘illogical’ and claimed he would challenge it.

‘The council can’t predict the future of whether I’m going to have a family,’ he added. ‘They’re just seeing this as a number.

‘This is just a waiting game now. I’m hoping we will reach some compromise but I am prepared to take this to court if I have to.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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