Woman returns home to find her flat cleared - by accident

Sarah Coles
Mary Russell in her flat
Mary Russell in her flat

Mary Russell, a 59-year-old from Coventry, returned to her flat last week to discover the door was off its hinges, furniture and TVs had been taken, and even the food had been removed from the freezer. She hadn't been burgled: all of this had been because of a major mistake by the housing association that owns the building.

Russell told the Daily Mirror that the tenants in the flat above hers had moved out, but when workers were sent to clear the empty flat, they made a horrible mistake, and cleared hers instead.

Whitefriars Housing staff went to the wrong flat in Euston Crescent in Willenhall, Coventry, and removed around 400 items - including a TV that was still in its box. The housing association has admitted it made a mistake, but the items have not been returned. The front door hasn't been replaced either - so Russell has been unable to stay at home.
Not the first

Bizarrely, this isn't the first time this has happened. In October last year a family in Gorton in Manchester returned home after a holiday to find their property had been cleared by a housing association. The family were private homeowners, and had nothing to do with the housing association, so they thought they had been burgled and called the police. Eventually they discovered that the association had gone in after misreading the house number and taken their furniture and clothes to the tip.

In 2010 Sedgefield Borough Homes cleared a garage by mistake. A couple had been using it to store around £500 of valuables - including their wedding photographs and their grandson's mountain bike. They were told the items had been taken to the tip. A year earlier the same Housing Association had cleared thousands of pounds of items from a home belonging to a retired couple, after mixing up the address of a home that was due to be cleared.

And the housing associations aren't the only ones making this kind of mistake. In July last year a family in Ohio returned from holiday to find their home had been ransacked, emptied, and the locks changed. A bank had accidentally repossessed it. They had been aiming to repossess the home across the street and two doors down, but apparently faulty GPS led them to the wrong property.

Property on AOL money

Inside the £1 house: what did they get for the money?

John Terry downsizes with move down the road

Is this the UK's cheapest house?

Multi-Storey Block of Flats Demolished in Glasgow
Multi-Storey Block of Flats Demolished in Glasgow