Couple’s despair over sinking home as insurers labelled ‘procrastinators’

James and Joan Coughlan who are struggling with a subsidence issue with their home. Picture: Daniell

James and Joan Coughlan who are struggling with a subsidence issue with their home. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

James and Joan Coughlan have shared a home on the edge of the city for more than 30 years.

But for the past nine months their house in Knox Close has started to deteriorate at the mercy of subsidence.

Part of the property has started to sink and cracks are now forming in its brickwork.

Tiles are falling from the walls and parts of the house have also been rendered "no-go zones".

Tiles falling off the kitchen wall of James and Joan Coughlan's home due to a subsidence issue. Pict

Tiles falling off the kitchen wall of James and Joan Coughlan's home due to a subsidence issue. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

But despite the property being protected by insurance an agreement is yet to be reached made on how the necessary repairs will be carried out.


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The couple's family is desperately trying to make arrangements with Lloyd's Bank to pay out on the policy.

And while the bank has told the family efforts are being made to address the problem, they are now facing a race against time to repair the home with the couple's health deteriorating and needs becoming more complex.

Cracks in the kitchen wall of James and Joan Coughlan's home due to a subsidence issue. Picture: Dan

Cracks in the kitchen wall of James and Joan Coughlan's home due to a subsidence issue. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

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Both Mr and Mrs Coughlan are approaching their 80s and suffer from varying health conditions, so are in desperate need of residential care. 

But until the property can be sold to finance their future living arrangements, the family have been left between a rock and a hard place.

Cracks in the wall of James and Joan Coughlan's home due to a subsidence issue. Picture: Danielle Bo

Cracks in the wall of James and Joan Coughlan's home due to a subsidence issue. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

Daughter Samantha Coughlan said Lloyd's appeared to be "procrastinating" over finding a solution to the problem, which dates back until around Christmas 2020.

She said: "The rear of the property is a no-go zone, kitchen cupboards are breaking and tiles are falling off the walls.

"There are large interior cracks and the house is generally deteriorating due to the significant subsidence.

Cracks in the wall of James and Joan Coughlan's home due to a subsidence issue. A temporary fix can

Cracks in the wall of James and Joan Coughlan's home due to a subsidence issue. A temporary fix can ben seen under the window to stop water leaking in. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

"It is not safe for them to live in their home over another winter and I fear that my father may well not live to see the repair of his home complete."

While some repairs were carried out to a drain nearby, believed to be the cause of the subsidence, damage to the building itself remains unrepaired.

Cracks in the kitchen wall of James and Joan Coughlan's home due to a subsidence issue. Picture: Dan

Cracks in the kitchen wall of James and Joan Coughlan's home due to a subsidence issue. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

And the family has been told that in order to fully restore the property, it will need to be partially demolished.

A spokeswoman for Lloyd's said: "Being there for our customers when they need us is our priority and we are looking into Mr and Mrs Coughlan's case. We will contact them as soon as our investigation has concluded.”

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