Detail on lease results in woman being evicted from home of 49 years

Rosemarie Earley has slammed the decision to move her into more 'suitable' housing as 'absolutely disgusting'.

A distressed 77-year-old woman claims she is being kicked out of her home of almost 50 years by the NSW government after she was brought to their attention by a small detail on the property’s original lease.

Rosemarie Earley and her husband, Eric, were allocated the house in Woonona, a northern suburb of Wollongong, a couple of years after they immigrated from England in 1971 “for a better life for the family”.

“When we moved in it was an empty shell. There were no carpets, no window fittings, not even lightbulbs; no soil. So we had to buy soil. We bought a garage, we paid to have the gas connected, put the carpet [in] and everything else that was needed,” she told A Current Affair.

Rosemarie Earley sitting in front of the red brick home she has lived in for 49 years despite not being on the lease until recently.
Rosemarie Earley has lived in the house in Woonona for 49 years, but her name wasn't on the lease until recently. Source: A Current Affair

At the time, the young married couple were under the impression they were buying the home because the paperwork said they had “been approved to purchase”. “My husband asked the man that collected the rent when we could pay our deposit, when we could buy the house? And he told us, ‘you'll never be able to buy the house’. So that was it.”

Ms Earley said they were told by a man who conducted an inspection of the housing commission property just weeks after they moved in that the pair could “stay here till you die”, so they assumed it would remain their forever home.

Woman slams 'disgusting' decision

The couple’s dream took a tragic turn in November when Eric died after a lengthy illness. Because only her husband’s name was allowed on the original lease, the 77-year-old said she contacted the NSW government to be recognised as a tenant in the home she has lived in since the 70s.

“The females had no say in the matter back in those days. Everything was in the husband's name because he was classed as the breadwinner. We were just housewives,” she told A Current Affair, claiming that the name change led to an eviction notice.

The original lease for the home with Ms Earley's husband's name.
The 77-year-old said only her husband's name was allowed on the original lease. Source: A Current Affair

“I was so happy when I finally signed the paperwork to say that I could live here and it was now in my name and then six weeks later, or so, I got the letter saying that this house no longer meets my needs.”

Ms Earley described the sudden decision to move her as “absolutely disgusting” and has begged for “compassion”. The house is reportedly on one level with modifications made for her age.

NSW government trying to find 'suitable' home

A Department of Communities and Justice spokesperson told the publication they have been working with the NSW Land and Housing Corporation and Ms Earley “to find a suitable home to meet her needs”.

“After living in a home for 49 years, we acknowledge this transition is incredibly difficult and have advised Mrs Earley that she is able to remain at her current property [until] another suitable property is confirmed,” they said.

Rosemarie Earley and her husband, Eric, in a black and white image at the time they immigrated to Australia.
The couple immigrated from England in 1971 'for a better life for the family'. Source: A Current Affair

“Mrs Earley currently resides in a three-bedroom home as a single occupant, we are reviewing home options to accommodate Mrs Earley while providing appropriate housing for thousands of families on the social housing waiting list in need of larger accommodation.”

The spokesperson added that the pensioner has requested a “two-bedroom home” and they are working on “securing her requested home preference as a priority” in the “area she has chosen to live in”.

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