Rekha bought the cottage, her first home, in 2010 for £162,500. She spent years and £30,000 doing it up before moving in in 2013.
But it was during the renovation - and when her builder carried out alterations to the roof without listed building consent - that her ordeal began. Although she did get retrospective consent for the work, her neighbour took her to court.
Representing herself, Rekha was found against by a judge. He ruled stones belonging to the neighbour, a ‘key architectural feature’ had been removed, ordered she pay costs and damages, and denied an appeal. She paid £17,000 but was served with an outstanding bill of £72,000.Rekha thinks that's not fair.
Rekha, who is now living with her parents in Stalybridge and works three jobs, says her decision not to pay is a moral one.
She added: “The court case broke me, totally broke me. I had tried to set up instalments but they ignored me.
“In the end I thought it would be criminal to pay and fuel these bullies. It’s never been about the money - it’s about right and wrong. I feel morally obligated to stand up to them. I teach hundreds of kids. If I can’t do what’s right how am I supposed to teach them to do what’s right?”I think your example is going to teach them a few of life's lessons, Rekha, albeit maybe not in the way you think it will...