AN 83-year-old woman who lives next to a long-derelict house in Inverleith Street, South Fremantle, says she’s so terrified by the antics of squatters she’s had to go on medication.
Her complaints are backed by neighbours, who have called for action to deal with the blow-ins after a conga-line of police cars have failed to push them out.
“I don’t sleep properly, you can hear them in the night. Nearly every two weeks I hear someone. I am an old woman, a sick woman, and this makes it worse,” says Elda Liubich.
As the Herald interviews neighbours, two young men in hoodies walk out of the house without shutting the door and disappear down the street.
Once the iconic “candy house” because of its striking blue and white walls and unique design, the home is now a mess of peeling paint and smashed windows. The gate is unhinged and rubbish is scattered through the yard, though a virtual jungle hides the worst of the decay.
Ms Liubich says she’s had to spend over $500 pruning trees overhanging her property, but has had no help from the owner, who lives nearby.
“She says I can cut her trees but she never gives you the money. I am on a pension, and if she doesn’t have the money, she should sell it.”
Ms Liubich says the squatters sometimes trespass on her property, while someone nicked a garden ornament from her front porch a while back.
“I had a beautiful white swan from my daughter and it was up here for 17 years.”
Andrew Robinson lives nearby and says they’d like to see the place rented out again, as it was a reminder of a time gone by.
“I’m sure there’s lots of people who would like to live there, it’s a sought-after spot.”
Another owner said they’d be prepared to help clean the place themselves, just to get a decent tenant in there.
Several of the neighbours gossiped about a young bloke who had tried that route himself.
“He was a really nice gentleman and he was cleaning everything up on the front and he went inside because the back door was open,” says Ms Liubich.
Cleaning up inside, he discovered $1500 under the carpet and took it to the owner as a display of his honesty and to ask about renting the place.
Instead she called the cops on him.
The Chook tracked down the owner who confirmed the story.
“I don’t want anyone in there,” she says. “
“You just don’t know these days with people growing drugs and whatnot, you never know. It’s not in a fit state to be rented out.”
The owner recently suffered a stroke, which has put her plans to demolish the house and rebuild on the back-burner.
She says it bothers her that people enter the property, but she’s not sure what to do about it. “That’s the trouble,” she says. “They just smash everything up. The house was all deadlocked but they just smashed them, locks and all.”
Fremantle council says it’s received complaints about the property for some time and will contact the owner again to have the property rectified.
“The City has no authority to forcibly remove people from the property. The matter of the squatters in the building is a civil matter and would normally require the owner to evict them, with support of the police. To assist, the City’s community safety officers will contact the owner and police to make them aware of the situation and allow the police to ascertain if the owner wants the squatters removed,” a council spokesperson said.
by MOLLY SCHMIDT