A MAN left paralysed in a car crash will be evicted from his home of 25 years after landlords called in bailiffs to remove him.
Harvey Cowe, 62, and his wife Sheree, 55, have barricaded themselves into their home, which the council has spent £200,000 on adaptations to accommodate his condition.
They fear they could be removed at any time so their landlords can sell the home, in Brittany Road, Hove, to help cover the cost of a £1.4 million inheritance tax bill.
Dr Cowe, who was left paralysed from the neck down after a car crash in 1984, and his wife were offered three months to raise £1 million to buy their home by their landlords.
His mother and sister-in-law sold their homes to help raise £500,000 and the council offered to match the amount in the form of a mortgage.
However, by the time the family had put together a £925,000 offer for the property, the deadline had passed by a week and the landlords had begun eviction proceedings.
Last week, a court granted the landlords, Anna and Dean Lashmar, possession of the property – with bailiffs drilling through the locks within minutes after the end of the hearing.
Mrs Cowe told The Argus: “We had the money and we thought we were getting somewhere.
“We had been thinking that we’re purchasing our home that we’ve lived in for 25 years and getting quite excited, but then the landlords refused to negotiate with us any further and stopped communicating.
“The bailiffs said someone would return with the police and, regardless of my husband being bed-bound, they would arrest him, handcuff him and put him in the back of a police van.
“It was really frightening and I’ve been really shaken up by the whole thing. I’m really worried as one of my doors won’t lock and I’m scared to leave the house in case they come back.”
The eviction also comes after Mrs Cowe lost her father last week.
She said the council have worked to move the family into student accommodation as a temporary measure, but she expressed concern about whether Dr Cowe’s medical equipment would fit.
Mrs Cowe said: “This has been going on for years – I’m getting a bit hardened to it but it doesn’t stop the pain.
“I’m really saddened and tired by it all – I just want this nightmare to end.”
Councillor appeals to landlords to reconsider eviction
Brighton and Hove City Councillor David Gibson, who co-chairs the housing committee, said he was “incredibly disappointed” by the court’s decision not to grant the couple more time to buy their home.
He said: “Due to the exceptional circumstances, we worked extremely quickly to help put in place an arrangement to enable the family to purchase the property.
“We agreed a loan to assist the family with the purchase based on a valuation and we made our load known to all the parties.
“It is very unusual for a council to use its powers in this way, but we believe our actions were appropriate in this instance given the needs of this household and the circumstances.”
Cllr Gibson said that the reasons the landlord had for rejecting the proposed purchase and enforcing the eviction “had nothing to do with the speed of the council’s work to support the Cowe family with the purchase”.
He said: “I think it is very sad that the landlord is insisting on pushing ahead with an immediate eviction of a severely disabled man and his family.
“The family is living in fear of the bailiffs. At this time, I appeal to the landlord to agree to reconsider their decision and try to negotiate a sale to the family”.
The council is working “flat out” to help find alternative temporary accommodation for the family.
Landlords: case has been ’emotional for all parties’
Rachel Lashmar, a family representative for the landlords, said: “We cannot comment on the case itself except to say this has been an incredibly complex and emotional situation for all parties involved spanning three years.”
Speaking to The Argus in February, co-landlord Dean Lashmar said that he had no choice but to sell the home to cover an inheritance tax bill.