How to lose a home in Ten Easy Steps
On August 7, 2013, the sheriff will officially seize my house, my former home. Unlike some other high profile bankrupts, I don’t have secondary houses to fall back on. I haven’t relocated to America or I don’t swan around the world on yachts. I had one home and on August 7th I will be officially homeless. Now, don’t worry, I only mean homeless as in lacking a home that I once had. In fact, for the past four years I have been renting a cottage nearby with my two children and various animals. I rent a very beautiful cottage with panoramic views across the local little hills. My old home has panoramic views also, but across to Mount Leinster as befits the central house of a townland, for Raheengraney House is named for its region.
I don’t think I will be there to witness the surrender of my once beautiful home. It has been a long time since I was there, maybe January of this year, and I don’t relish the thought of a sheriff changing locks or putting up yellow tape to stop trespassers. On August 7th, I will become a trespasser in my own home. It is the ending of an era. I had fought a long time to save my home, some six years or so. It is not that I give up, but the task was beyond me. There are some battles that can be won, some that need to be fought and some that must slip between the fingers. I did not know it but Raheengraney house was always slipping through my fingers, from the very day we saw the ruin.
So, I thought, on the eve of my impending homelessness, that I would chronicle how to lose a home in ten easy steps.
Step One – Get Married
Ok, I know you might think I am doing a Tristan Shandy here, and I promise to speed up shortly. But the first place to find a home (the one to be lost afterwards) is often to get married, and I was no exception. Except, exception provided, my first home was in Dublin, on Leinster Road and had we remained there, I most certainly would not be homeless in a week’s time. Leinster Road and overlooking Mount Leinster, coincidences are always at play. I said I would be taken from that home in a box. Fortunately I was not, but sadly we did sell.
Step Two – Change career
My husband had a self-confessed, mid-life crisis. He wished to leave banking. He cast around for alternative careers and together we settled on gentleman guest house owner. Then we cast around for a suitable ruin. Ruin for we had limited money and suitable, well just a suitable ruin I guess. We were sent a brochure within a brochure. The second brochure was a hand drawn rendering of a house, Raheengraney house. It looked promised, as indeed art might.
Step Three – Discover a lifestyle
We visited the first house (with photographic image) and then the second (with line sketching). The second, Raheengraney House, was in very poor repair. But, in our first viewing we met with a gentleman guesthouse owner extraordinaire who told us all about his lifestyle. I have to say he wowed us both. He and his beautiful lady wife are strong friends of mine to this day. Now, they are very good at running guesthouses and hotels. They are also warm, vivacious people. And he is a most convincing speaker. We fell for him but we bought Raheengraney House.
Step Four – Emphasis on the wrong word.
Gentleman guest house owner, with emphasis on owner. I know, you thought I would emphasise the first word, not the last. I may be divorced but I refused to be drawn on bitchiness. So, finally we were in possession of a guest house but only as owners. It was never really run as such, aside from a few family delegations. My own business, however, soon mushroomed in the basement where I would spend much of my time over the years.
Step Five – Change career again
So, while being a gentleman guest house owner is a nice title, it doesn’t involve that much work. Owning a guest house without guests is pretty boring I guess. Either way, I worked below ground and we had very few guests above. Boredom had its way and my husband decided, along with the rest of the country and sadly with my full support, to become a bit of a property whizz. It made sense for we had increased our investment in the guesthouse tenfold: why not use that equity elsewhere.
Step Six – Get Divorced
Ah, I can see it now and hear the gasps in the audience. Now we are getting to the nub of the problem. All the rest was filling, superficial nonsense. If divorce had not reared its ugly head then the homeless equation would not come into being. A divided by B equals C. Dear reader, you are probably right. Getting divorced was probably the single biggest factor in my becoming homeless in the next eight days.
Step Seven – Make a Video
Go viral. Talk about stuff. Think you are making a difference.
Step Eight – Go to Court
Nails in coffins, thump, thump, thump. My first day in court the judge called me a human being. She castigated the banks. She insisted they talk to me or she would strike the case.
Step Nine – lose your Humanity
On my return to court I was no longer a human being. The judge just signed the order. I was also no longer a home owner. I had become invisible.
Step Ten – Avoid boxes
I had said, second time around, that I would only leave Raheengraney House in a box. I think I must have a latent death wish or something. Again fortunately, I did not. I am still alive. I have left the house and now the house is leaving me. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
That is two houses I have not left in a box. Maybe my third will be a keeper.
So, ladies and gentleman. There is nothing in my steps that might frighten you out of the ordinary yet I implore you not to follow the sequence for fear that you too may follow my fate. To be homeless is not liberating, it is not cowing, it not regretful, it is not depressing, it just is. And so I shall be on August 7, 2013.
You are a survivor Gillian and I wish you the best of luck.
Thank you for sharing – reading your words, I reckon your ‘box’ is a long way off. Family and friends can be your castle too !
Hi Jillian, what happen to the Guesthouse, why were they no guests?
ah, let’s just say my ex had more than a passing resemblance to Basil Faulty! lol I guess that makes me like Sybil! lol
Hi, please stop saying you are homeless, you are not homeless, just no longer a home owner. You are not akin to a tramp living on the street, your situation is dramatic enough without you over-egging the pudding.
Being a non-owner is not as dirty as you make it out to be. I’ve be a very happy non-owner for many years and in that time I’ve never once been homeless.
Thank you for your comment and it is well taken. However, I would to point out that in the opening paragraph, at line four I make that exact point. I state that I am not homeless but I am losing my home. Here is the opening paragraph again.
Now, don’t worry, I only mean homeless as in lacking a home that I once had. In fact, for the past four years I have been renting a cottage nearby with my two children and various animals. I rent a very beautiful cottage with panoramic views across the local little hills.
Hi Thanks for your story. How long was the process from intention to repossess notification to Sheriff arriving? I’m in a similar situation myself and only worry is how long I’ll have to get out!
I am so sorry to hear that. I hope you have alternative accommodation planned. I got the first court papers last year in September I think. The first court date was in January and the second in February a month later then the order was given. A few weeks later I got a copy of the court order and then on Monday I got the letter saying the sheriff is coming to take possession of the house ten days later. I am not sure if he will arrive on the day specified. I am sorry not to be of more help. Wishing you every good blessing. Take care xx
Thanks again Jillian,
Getting 30 day notices at the min although I’m paying 50% of payment, and about a year ago the gits wouldn’t allow me to go interest only. Banks in Ireland need massive change! Successive governments only bend the systems to suit their banker friends!
That’s relived me a bit. Thanks again!
Nicely told. But only half the story of course: in your very Tristram Shandy way, you’ve told the decline side; now for the climb back to sunlit uplands, peace and tranquility, only to be left in a box. I look forward to the sequel.
I am hoping to go for the Hunter S Thompson approach …Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
That sounds like fun!
Good piece and well engagingly written. I have no idea how I found this blog post but when I read it I realised it had certain parallels with my own blog. I have been charting my battle with HBOS since they took my home and still hope writing and fighting might make a difference. Good luck for the future. http://lifeafterdebts.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/socially-useless-banking-regulation.html
Thank you Caroline – I think there will be many more like us in the future – certainly here in Ireland where a combination of a dishonest banking elite #anglotapes, incompetent regulators and power hungry politicians – conspire with personal tragedies to make us homeless. Let’s keep in touch!
Wow Jillian that was a such a surprised looking at houses and seeing that amazing place for such a sad sum ! you and your daughter are so amazing ! You used to lighten up my day when I saw you in the morning on school runs ! Hope you and the girls are happy ! As we all know as long as you are happy it doesn’t matter where u live !
thanks Michelle – ah the halcyon days where finding the rent was not a problem! Onwards and upwards! Hope you and yours are keeping well. cheers Jillian x