Hammersmith & FulhamNews

Council mistakenly tells family they will be homeless unless ‘arrangements’ made for cat

By Ben Lynch, Local Democracy Reporter 

A West London mum was told she would have to ditch her pet cat if she wanted to move into a new flat, with the threat that she’d be homeless unless she complied.

Natasha Charles, 40, who lives with her two daughters, 10 and 12, in Brent, but is under the care of Hammersmith and Fulham council, said that getting rid of their five-year-old cat, Cookie, would have caused “devastation” to her family.

The council ultimately said that the stipulation was made in error. 

Ms Charles was contacted by the council on May 31, about a new temporary accommodation in White City. During a visit to the property the following week, Ms Charles mentioned to the agent present that she has a cat. 

The agent told her the landlord, from whom the council leases the flat, does not allow pets. 

Ms Charles said this had not come up in any of the relevant housing forms, and that the council’s housing department was aware she had a cat in her current home.

Cookie lives with Natasha Charles and her family in their current home in Brent (Picture: Natasha Charles)

After contacting Hammersmith and Fulham, Ms Charles was told the council does not allow pets “in any of our temporary accommodation”. 

The officer who sent the email further wrote she would have to make her own arrangements for the cat, and that if she did not accept the property, “the council will take this as a refusal, and discharge its housing duty to you”.

They added: “This means that you would have made you and your family homeless and will have to make your own arrangements and your current temporary accommodation will also be cancelled.”

Ms Charles was initially given a next-day deadline to accept the offer, which was extended to later that same week, before the council eventually realised its mistake. 

A Hammersmith and Fulham Council spokesperson has since clarified that the information in the email to Ms Charles was incorrect, and that the council does not have a no-pets approach, but instead works with a range of suppliers, each of whom has their own policy.

A Hammersmith and Fulham council spokesman said the local authority has apologised to Ms Charles for its poor service, and that it is working to find her suitable temporary accommodation from a private landlord which allows pets. 

Pictured top : Natasha Charles in her home in west London (Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga) 

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