A FAMILY fear they could be made homeless due to a dispute over a dog shed.
Supermarket worker Gail Baines and her 24-year-old son Richard keep two lurchers in a shed in the garden of their home in The Crescent, Silksworth.
But housing company Gentoo have told the pair that the shed, which cost Richard £620 to have built, is in breach of their tenancy agreement and are threatening to evict them unless they take it down.
But Gail, 45, claims the family have complied with everything Gentoo have asked of them.
She said: “I feel like I’m being victimised.”
Problems first arose in 2010, when complaints led to the housing company issuing a warning to remove the original shed, or at least to make it smaller and ensure it was not in contact with any fences or other parts of the property.
Richard claims he saved up the money to have the work carried out and a smaller shed was professionaly built for the dogs, complying with a 15-point guide laid down by Gentoo.
The group had agreed in November 2010 to award retrospective permission for the shed if the required alterations were made but despite the Baineses claiming they did everything they were told, they say the threat of legal proceedings still looms.
On April 23, Gentoo informed Gail that she had seven days to take down the shed or possession proceedings would be issued in the County Court. She has heard nothing since.
“The housing officer suggested the new shed was fine,” said Gail. “There are houses round here that are derelict that they do nothing about.
“These dogs are my son’s life. I don’t understand why they are doing this to us.”
As well as the physical restrictions placed on the construction of the shed, Gentoo demanded that the area must be kept clear of the dogs’ mess, be cleaned regularly and house no more than two dogs.
Richard claims he cleans the shed every day.
Ian Porter, managing director of Gentoo Sunderland, said: “We have had numerous complaints over months in respect of the condition and cleanliness of a dog pen at this address.
“Despite a number opportunities and working with Mrs Baines this continues to be an unacceptable situation to ourselves and other residents affected.
“Unfortunately, this is a breach of tenancy and we have moved on to dealing with it in this way .”