Northampton man’s dying wish to exchange council house with granddaughter stalls for two months due to red tape

Jemma and Jodie Brown outside their step-grandfather's house in Kings Heath.
Jemma and Jodie Brown outside their step-grandfather's house in Kings Heath.

A terminally ill man’s dying wish to see his Northampton council home passed on to his step-granddaughter could finally be granted despite a lengthy paperwork dispute.

Robert Linnell has lived in the three-bedroom house in Swale Drive, Kings Heath for 36 years.

But the 66-year-old former removals man, now has terminal cancer and wants to make sure his home stays in the family.

He and his step-daughter Jodie Brown have agreed to carry out a mutual exchange of their properties, in which mother-of-four Miss Brown would swap her small flat in St James with Mr Linnell’s home, back on May 5.

But the process had dragged on for more than two months because Mr Linnell, currently in hospital and unable to move without an oxygen tank, was unable to get to the Guildhall to sign the tenancy agreement.

Miss Brown, 30, had asked Northampton Partnership Homes, which manages social housing in the town, to get the paperwork to her grandfather but she claims she was told that would only be possible in “extreme circumstances”.

Miss Brown told the Chron on Monday: “If this is not an extreme circumstance, I don’t know what is.”

However, following enquiries by the Chron, NPH says it is now willing to get the paperwork out to the army hero as soon as possible.

Shirley Davies, executive director of housing management, said: “I am sorry for any distress that has been caused to Miss Brown and Mr Linnell at this difficult time.

“I am looking into the details of this application carefully to establish why the exchange had not progressed further.

“One of our team will be visiting Mr Linnell at the most convenient place for him, to make sure we get the speediest outcome for this family as possible.”

Miss Brown said she was upset that the whole process took so long.

She said: “It is my grandad’s dying wish that this house stays in the family, but he has been spending his final days worrying about this.”

If Mr Linnell, the dad of a war hero, were to have died before the mutual exchange was made, the house would have had to go back on the open market and would be subject to bids from the housing waiting list.

Northampton Partnership Homes requires tenancy agreements to be signed in front of a witness from the organisation.

Miss Brown and members of her family sought advice about getting power of attorney for Mr Linnell, but NPH could not accept their paperwork as they said it was not legally binding.