Thursday, July 25, 2024

Empty council property saves the day for evacuated family

AN EMPTY three bedroom property in South Ockendon, which had only just been renovated for new tenants, became a safety net for a family who urgently needed shelter after their house was completely flooded by a burst water main.

Michael Hogger and Nicola Wilkes, along with their three children, Luke, 17, Jason, 15, Aaron 7 and Pickles their Labrador were awoken at 4am last Monday (13 Aug) to the sound of running water and came downstairs to find their entire garden was completely flooded. Within minutes the water was aggressively flowing through their entire house, damaging their floor and many of their possessions. There were several other properties that were also affected but the damage to Michael and Nicola’s home was so bad, that after an inspection they had to immediately evacuate.

Within hours the family found themselves homeless and sitting in their local area office with a team of housing officers making endless calls to find emergency accommodation, as well as a suitable property to decant them in. This task was proving to be extremely challenging and complex as the family couldn’t put Pickles in a kennel as he is a help dog for their eldest son who is autistic. Under intense pressure the team managed to source a suitable bed and breakfast and with a stroke of good fortune a void property in the same locality had just become available. Within 24 hours, the board highlighting improvements came down, the family moved out of the bed and breakfast and were handed the keys by Wednesday morning.

Michael and Nicola said “We can’t thank Thurrock Council enough for this, and how they managed to get us out of our situation so fast. Our entire world had turned upside down but now we have the safety and comfort of this property until we can move back to our old home”

Cllr Val Morris Cook, Portfolio Holder for Housing at Thurrock Council said “This is a great example of how the council needs to continue turning around void properties as quickly as possible. Not only does it reduce the waiting time for so many families needing urgent homes, voids can also become a vital resource when tenants are faced with emergency situations like this”


  1. Well done to the council on housing this family quickly!

    The article doesn’t actually state how long the refurbished property was ‘void’ so it could have taken the council the usual 3-4 months to turn the property around.


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