A Cardiff pensioner has fought off a bid by her daughter and son-in-law for a stake in the home she bought under the “right to buy” scheme.
Wendy and Stephen MacDonald insisted they were due a share of the ex-council home in Clydesmuir Road, Tremorfa.
The dispute set the couple at loggerheads with Wendy’s 85-year-old mum, Carmel Andrews, who bought the house in 1988 for £11,470, and lives there to this day.
Stephen MacDonald, a former Merchant Navy seaman, claimed there was a pact between all three that he and his wife would ultimately inherit the property.
‘Would become theirs’
He told a judge at the First-Tier Tribunal that he contributed heavily to utility bills and mortgage repayments.
He claimed his mother-in-law “suggested that the property be purchased in her name and that they would all live there together until she died – when it would become theirs”.
But Judge Ann McAllister has now ruled firmly in the pensioner’s favour, saying she gave the couple “no promise or assurance” that they would inherit her home.
Mr MacDonald claimed he had helped out his mother-in-law, then a cleaner at Cardiff Royal Infirmary, with cash when she was “struggling to make ends meet”.
‘Feet under the table’
But Mrs Andrews said Mr MacDonald had moved into her home while she was away visiting another daughter and ended up “with his feet under the table, as she put it”.
The living arrangement carried on in “relative harmony” for the next 24 years, but broke down amid heated rows over money in 2011.
The locks were changed in 2014 and neither Mr or Mrs MacDonald have been back since. Mrs Andrews is herself now keen to move elsewhere, said the judge.
It was clear that her son-in-law felt very strongly about the justice of his cause, the judge added, and had convinced himself that “he has in some way been deceived or mistreated”.
Ruling against Mr and Mrs MacDonald, however, the judge said Mrs Andrews had exercised her “right to buy” on the property for financial reasons.
The couple had contributed to utility bills, but the judge found that the pensioner had covered the vast bulk of the mortgage repayments.
Mr and Mrs MacDonald had benefited greatly from the living arrangements with Mrs Andrews and the judge observed: “Of course, they lived there rent free for 24 years”.
The ruling means that Mrs Andrews’ home belongs to her alone and she can leave it to “whosoever she wishes”.