A PRIVATELY let house that was gutted by fire 18 months ago remains a boarded-up shell, and angry residents are demanding action is taken to repair the eyesore.

Margaret Carter, 84, from Trimdon Station, was left with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease after a fire at a neighbouring terraced property filled her house with thick black smoke.

Although her home, on Station Road West, has been repaired, the house, owned by a series of distant landlords, remains a burnt out shell.

The garden is frequently targeted by fly tippers and the property has been broken into and has suffered a water leak.

Mrs Carter, who has owned her home for 65 years, said she feels scared at night and described the building as an upsetting reminder of the fire that “ruined her life".

“When my late husband and I first moved here the street was gorgeous, everyone wanted to live here then,” she said.

“There was a pie and peas shop, a lovely bakery, a corner shop and a fish and chip shop. The changes we have seen here are unbelievable.”

Sheila Scott, 37, who lives across the road, said she was too frightened to walk her children near the property, as glass and tiles fall from the roof on windy days.

Luckily, no-one was at home when the fire, a suspected arson, swept through the two-storey house on February 5, last year.

It is believed that the distant landlord who owned the property had no insurance and it has since been resold twice.

Trimdon and Thornley county councillor, Peter Brookes, and nearby resident Patricia Chatterley, 76, have been campaigning on Mrs Carter’s behalf.

“There is something wrong with the legislation if it allows a property like this to stay in this state and be resold without the owner having to take responsibility,” said Cllr Brookes.

“It is local residents that bear the brunt of it.”

Stephen Reed, planning development manager at Durham County Council, said an enforcement notice had been served on the owners in June, requiring specific work to be carried out over six weeks from July 5, 2014.

“As no work had begun by the deadline of the notice we have now written to the owners to inform them that as the site remains in an unacceptable condition we are considering taking action due to the fact that they have failed to comply with the enforcement notice."