8 Aug 2013
Homeowner Amanda Upson-Palmer urges action over mystery of house derelict in Lower Halstow for 23 years
A mother is calling for action over a house rumoured to be haunted that has stood empty for almost a quarter of a century.
Amanda Upson-Palmer said the property next to hers in Lower Halstow, near Sittingbourne, has been left a decaying time warp since its owner died 23 years ago.
The 44-year-old claims the house is a magnet to vandals - and she has even lost tenants renting out her home because their children believed they were living next to ghosts.
Amanda Upson-Palmer wants action taken over a rundown house next to hers
Miss Upson-Palmer said the property, in Westmoreland Drive, is lowering the tone of the village and could have a detrimental effect on neighbouring property values.
"It looks like the Mary Celeste," she said. "All the furniture inside has gathered 23 years of dust and decay.
"The old boy who owned it kept it in an immaculate state, but when he died it went to rack and ruin.
"It's a lovely little village, but it wouldn't surprise me if house prices were depreciating because of it."
The property has been left in a decaying state since its owner died in 1990.
Miss Upson-Palmer said she had lobbied Swale council to take out a purchase order on the three-bedroom semi, which she believes is owned by two sisters.
The mature student, who rents out her property, said: "Local kids who have been in there say it's haunted.
"I've already lost one set of tenants because their children were told they were living next door to a haunted house.
"It's also a fire risk, but environmental health officers said there's nothing they can do because there's no rats."
The whereabouts of the property's owners is unknown.
A run-down house in Lower Halstow that has stood empty for 23 years
Miss Upson-Palmer added: "My youngest son's 23, and he's only seen the owners once in all that time.
"We were told it was being put up for auction two years ago.
"There's a shortage of housing. Why can't the council buy it and rent it to a family who needs it?"
Cllr Ben Stokes (Con), who represents Iwade and Lower Halstow, said he had spoken to Swale council about the house's poor condition.
He said: "It's a bit of an eyesore and it needs tidying up. It could affect the value of neighbouring properties."
A council spokesman said it was "liaising" with the owners about their plans for the house.
She said: "Should we receive any complaints regarding environmental issues surrounding the property, we will investigate."
The council said compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) may be justified where there appears to be no chance of a suitable property being used as a home.
The spokesman added: "Before a CPO is confirmed, the local authority has to show that it has taken steps to encourage the owner to bring the property into acceptable use.
"It will also need to show the reasons for making a CPO justify interfering with your human rights or those of anyone else with an interest in the property."