Council fined nearly £7K after family of five left in one bedroomed flat for a year

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

A council has been fined £6,750 after a family of five were left in a one-bedroomed flat for almost a year.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman – which regulates councils – said Lambeth failed to rehouse the family soon enough despite being aware they were living in overcrowded conditions.

The unnamed father and mother, known only as Mr X and Mrs X, told Lambeth council they were homeless in October 2018 while Mrs X was pregnant with the couple’s first child.

Lambeth gave the couple a room in a hostel with an attached bathroom and shared kitchen.

In October 2019,  Mr X asked the council for a larger flat. Mrs X was pregnant with the couple’s second child and he said the family needed somewhere bigger. Lambeth told him it didn’t have anywhere larger available.

The couple’s second child was born in March 2020 and they had a third child a year later in April 2021.

Despite Mr X sending multiple complaints to the council, the family weren’t given a bigger house until March 2022 – 11 months after the birth of their third child and two years after the birth of their second.

The ombudsman said Lambeth had failed to provide the family with a suitable home. A ruling from May 15 said: “The council says, based on the dimensions of the room and the council’s hostel standards, the accommodation was designated as suitable for three people.

“However, since moving to the hostel, Mr and Mrs X’s family grew and the accommodation therefore became increasingly overcrowded.

“The council says the family’s occupation of the hostel room breached the hostel space standards after the birth of Child B in March 2020.

“The council says the main reason for the time taken to move Mr and Mrs X is the shortage of housing, especially family-sized housing, and the number of other households requiring temporary accommodation.

A spokesman for Lambeth council said: “Lambeth is facing a severe housing crisis, which means that more than 38,000 people are on the council’s waiting list for social housing.

“Every night, the council provides temporary accommodation for more than 3,150 homeless families, at a cost of £10million a year, because of the huge gap between the level of demand for accommodation and the housing supply.”

Picture top: Lambeth town hall Picture: Wikimedia Commons/ Reading Tom

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