A BONEO couple whose elderly parents were living in a unit at the back of their property are appealing to the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council to halt a “heartless” plan to demolish their home.
Louise and David Cairns live in a house on 3.2 hectares in Browns Road and moved their dependent parents to a small unit behind the house in 2018 after the building was plumbed, wired and connected to sewerage.
Ms Cairns said she and her husband were shocked when they received a council building order “out of the blue” and were told their parents, aged 82 and 83, had to vacate the unit and it would be demolished “immediately”.
The couple say they had received permits for a cabin to be professionally installed on the property and were unaware of any compliance issues.
“With no warning we were notified our parents had to vacate the unit and it would be demolished – it was a terrible shock and really distressing, as they are in their 80s and have poor vision and hearing,” Ms Cairns said.
“My parents and I have been driven to thoughts of suicide, they are elderly and unwell and we are all so distressed by this.”
After taking the matter to court, the couple were given another six months to rectify some issues, but after desperately contacting more than 22 tradespeople were unsuccessful because of the building order on the property.
The six months is now up but the couple is out of money and out of time, and fear the demolition could be enforced at any moment.
“We had to buy a caravan to get them out of the unit straight away, and with that and the legal costs we have spent around $49,000 and have nothing left,” she said.
“We just don’t know what to do, and nobody will do the work anyway because of the order … I am begging the council to have a heart.”
The mayor Cr Steve Holland said the shire had “a legal duty … to ensure structures are habitable and our community is safe”.
The shire had tried to work with the owner to “fix the situation” since it “became aware of multiple illegal structures on the land in March 2020”. The owners had neither removed the structures or provided “certification for illegal works”.