Burnley Council have issued a Compulsory Purchase Order on an abandoned property after neighbours complained that extensive rotting and damp in the house was costing them thousands.
The offending Paulhan Street residency has been empty for "six or seven years" according to Edna Sharpe (83), who lives next door, with the home's state of severe dilapidation causing damage to both her house and that of Angela Dilworth, who lives on the other side.
Not realising that the abandoned house in between them was rotting from the inside, Angela and Edna - who lives with her 91-year-old husband, Joseph - spent thousands of pounds treating the damp and mould, which had damaged their floors, skirting boards, and joists.
"My floorboards are rotting, all up my walls I've got mushrooms I've got to keep cutting off," said Angela. "It's like a brown, smelly dust. My builder said that he thinks the building could collapse in the next few months."
A private landlord, who lives elsewhere in the UK and who allegedly has other properties in Burnley, owns the offending home, with the council in the process of buying it up for renovation after issuing a CPO.
"The house is being acquired by the council under its empty homes programme," a Burnley spokesperson said. "It will be repaired and renovated and then put up for sale.
"The empty homes programme is one of several initiatives by the council that have proved successful in bringing vacant properties across the borough back into use," the statement continued.
"It's been going on for years," said Edna. "It came through the gas meter box - all brown stuff. It was damp and it smelled, and we found all the floorboards were rotten, so we had someone round and they said that we needed to move out.
"We got him to pull the floorboards up and treat them [and] we thought it was okay then, but it came through again a few months later," she added.
The owner of the house - number 20 - came back to the property briefly about 18 months ago, according to Angela, only to take one look at the state of the house and leave again.
"We thought it had been our fault, but we we got the [builder] to look through the letter box [of the house next door] and he said all the walls were brown, the floor was brown," explained Edna. "He said he'd never seen anything like it in his life."
"He's not got any floors in there any more because of dry rot [and now] my floors are going in," Angela added. "It's really scary - I live by myself and the floor could sink in."
With four rooms in her house affected - the porch, living room, back room, and kitchen - Angela says that she is worried that the near-constant presence of brown mould and damp is affecting her health, saying: "The smell has been a problem too: you don't know what you're breathing in."
"We feel as if the brown stuff is affecting our throats and chests; we're always clearing our throats," Edna agreed. "We must be breathing something in."
Having issued the CPO, the council have to wait for the legal process to come to its conclusion, and can unfortunately not offer a timescale regarding when the house will be able to be renovated.
"The council said they have to go through the legal channels, which unfortunately can take years," said Angela. "But my floors are going down.
"I don't know what to do," she said.