Mum urges North Yorkshire property developers to drop care covenants

A FAMILY from Scarborough and a company which specialises in sourcing supported living accommodation are appealing to property developers to ease covenants which prevent people with complex needs from buying a home.

For more than two years Diana Gough and her family have been tirelessly trying to find a new home for her 20-year-old son Ronnie, facing numerous obstacles along the way.

Ronnie has been diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, autism and epilepsy, requiring specialised care and accommodation.

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Despite living in supported housing with Happy Futures Support Specialists in Scarborough, he has outgrown his current small bungalow and is ready for greater independence.

Ronnie and his familyRonnie and his family
Ronnie and his family

However, his family’s and housing providers’ attempts to buy three different properties have been thwarted by restrictive covenants prohibiting supported living and care services on the premises.

Such covenants are worded to the effect of not allowing the property for any purpose other than as a private dwelling nor to carry out any trade or business or manufacture whatsoever on the land.

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Ms Gough said the search to find Ronnie a new home has been energy-sapping.

Lynne Taylor, CEO of Happy FuturesLynne Taylor, CEO of Happy Futures
Lynne Taylor, CEO of Happy Futures

“My 6 foot 4 inch tall young man deserves an appropriately sized home where our family can comfortably spend time together, celebrate holidays, and have sleepovers,” she said.

“I don't want to spend another two years searching. The stress is overwhelming. I want to be just a mum, not a warrior constantly fighting for my son’s basic needs.”

Restrictive covenants can potentially prevent social care providers from providing support at a vulnerable individual’s premises even if he or she holds the tenancy.This is also of concern for the housing provider buying the property with the intention that a vulnerable person can live there.

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Happy Futures CEO Lynne Taylor said there may be a solution but property developers have to be pro-active.

“Ronnie underwent an assessment identifying his optimal living environment with ample indoor and outdoor space, including room for loved ones to stay over,” she said.

“Having found three suitable homes, the sales were blocked by the same restrictive clause. In accordance with fair housing laws, contracts must allow equal access for individuals requiring 24-hour care and support.

“Developers have an opportunity to ensure vulnerable adults with disabilities can live in appropriate, supportive community settings without unfair denial of their rights.

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“In some circumstances, it has been possible to have a clause added stating: except for the purposes of supported living accommodation and ancillary matters which are permitted at the property.

“Adding this clause to the deed of variation has enabled various vulnerable individuals to live independently with the assistance of support workers. We’re called on property developers in the Scarborough area to add this clause to their covenants.”

Despite approaching several developers, the Goughs' requests to modify these restrictions have been denied.

Ms Gough said: “I hope this is not unintentional discrimination impacting my son's right to community living.

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“My son cannot advocate for himself, so as his mother, I will fight to ensure property developers revise their contracts, removing these barriers so Ronnie and others like him can find suitable homes meeting all their needs.

“Surely someone in the construction industry will help break down these barriers so Ronnie can live in the right property.

“As a new build would be the best to give a clean slate to work from to develop the property for Ronnie, it means he still has no new home.

“It also means that the covenants prevent anyone who needs care from living in the estates and to be honest feels archaic. To say we are supposed to be helping integrate people of all disabilities into the community, this is preventing exactly that.

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“The search for suitable housing can be an immense challenge, especially for individuals with disabilities and complex needs.”

Anyone willing to assist the Gough family can contact Happy Futures Support Specialists at 01723 586633.

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