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Family’s £2k payout over crowded house
A FATHER is to be paid £2,000 compensation by City of York Council after his family had to live in overcrowded accommodation for more than two years.
The authority failed to comply with the law by placing the man in a property which was too small for him, his wife and two daughters, said Local Government Ombudsman Dr Jane Martin.
She said the girls, now aged 11 and 12, had had to share a bedroom barely big enough for two single beds, and the family had been caused a “serious injustice”.
She expected the council to be aware of the law and carry out basic checks on the properties it let to ensure it complied with its statutory obligations.
She said: “The seriousness of the situation is made worse by the fact that even when this matter was brought to the attention of the council by (the man) his MP and my office, the council still insisted it had acted within the law, thus prolonging the family’s unsuitable housing conditions for a further six months.”
The Ombudsman said the council had agreed to:
• pay the man £2,000 compensation for the “significant distress, frustration, time and trouble he and his family have been caused in having to live in unsuitable accommodation for two years longer than was necessary”
• review its guidance to housing officers on the council’s duties under overcrowding legislation and government guidance, and arrange refresher training for all housing officers involved in making offers of accommodation to ensure their knowledge and practice in this area was up to date.
Dr Martin said the man, who has not been identified, had since successfully bid for a three-bedroom property of his choice.
She said he had first applied for accommodation in March 2010 on the grounds he and his family were homeless. The council accepted it had a duty to house them and placed them in temporary accommodation, but he was then offered a property with two bedrooms, one of which measured only 7.7 square metres.
He asked if he could refuse the property, but was told that if he did he would not be offered another one, and he signed the tenancy.
Dr Martin said the man complained via his local MP in January this year, but the council said it had dealt with the case in accordance with homelessness legislation and the council’s allocations policy, and the family was adequately housed.
‘We have put measures in place to ensure this does not happen again’
COUNCIL bosses say they have apologised to the family and taken steps to prevent a similar situation arising again in future.
Steve Waddington, assistant director of housing and community safety, said: “We accept the Ombudsman’s finding and have apologised to the tenant. The council delivers services to over 8,000 tenants and leaseholders and unfortunately, in this case, our property records were wrong which resulted in the applicant being offered a home that meant they were overcrowded.
“We have since put measures in place to ensure that this does not happen again.”
York Central MP Hugh Bayley, who intervened on the man’s behalf, welcomed the council’s “belated” acceptance it had acted wrongly.