Council pays family £6,000 after children forced to sleep in kitchen of overcrowded home

By Kiro Evans, Local Democracy Reporter

A family living in a flat so overcrowded children were forced to sleep in the kitchen have been paid £6,000 by the council.

The Local Government Ombudsman found Bromley council at fault for its handling of the situation, and failure to recognise the urgency of the family’s circumstances.

The Ombudsman, which handles complaints filed against local councils, ruled the situation left the family facing “significant avoidable stress and frustration”.

A man, known only as Mr B, complained to the council after his landlord served him with an eviction notice in July 2019.

He had originally been living in a one-bedroom flat alone before his partner and five children joined him after arriving from abroad.

At that time his children were between six months and eight years old.

The council initially did nothing to protect Mr B, believing the landlord’s eviction notice to be invalid.

But when the landlord once again told the dad to leave, the council provided Mr B and his family with a homeless prevention duty in September.

This places a duty on housing authorities to work with people threatened with homelessness.

The Ombudsman’s report criticised the council’s delay in doing this.

The Ombudsman also said the council should have offered the family temporary accommodation, with the property so crowded the children were forced to sleep in the kitchen and hall.

The Ombudsman’s report said: “The council says it found out at that September interview that Mr B’s partner and five children had arrived to live with Mr B from abroad in July 2019.

“The form completed at the interview in early September again notes that the family was not severely overcrowded.”

As a result of the “avoidable injustice”, the family have been given £6,000 as a remedy.

The payment comes from a calculation of £400 every month the family remained in their overcrowded home from when a complaint was first lodged.

Bromley council will also send Mr B a written apology and attempt to address wider systemic issues.

Bromley Council has been contacted for comment.

Pictured top: Bromley Civic Centre (Picture: Google Street View)




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