Ombudsman criticises Haringey Council for not stepping in to prevent family, including disabled children, becoming homeless

Haringey Civic Centre Picture: Ken Mears

Haringey Civic Centre Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Haringey Council has been rapped by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) over a case where it should have stepped in sooner to prevent a young family becoming homeless.

The town hall has been told to pay a young mother £1,500. Though now in an appropriate home, she had been living in emergency accommodation in a B&B since February – so throughout the duration of lockdown.

The mother, some of whose children are disabled, had been living in privately rented accommodation when her landlord sought to evict her.

The LGO has found that, instead of helping her to find accommodation before she was evicted, the council asked the family to stay in the property until the eviction date, despite a senior housing manager telling colleagues this was not legally appropriate.

READ MORE: Haringey Council U-turns on demolishing Muswell Hill homes, after buying ex-council house for £2.15mThe LGO also found the council was at fault “for not helping to find the family somewhere to live when they were facing eviction”, and “for failing to consider their financial hardship before having to pay costs for the court order to evict them”.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, Michael King said: “Haringey should have acted sooner when the mother alerted them to the possibility her family would be made homeless.

“With large family homes difficult to find in the area, it was all the more important for the council to act swiftly to secure alternative, emergency accommodation before the family were evicted.

“The council has assured me this is an isolated example of poor practice, but I am concerned that some of the issues raised during the investigation may have had an impact on other people.”

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Mr King said he hoped the town hall would learn from what had gone wrong.

Cllr Emine Ibrahim, Haringey’s housing chief, said: “We expect the highest standards for our residents, and I am deeply sorry that we didn’t meet these on this occasion.”

She said Homes for Haringey had “taken steps”, including extra training for officers, to make sure this incident wasn’t repeated. She said the family were now living in a home that met their needs.

Pointing to “decades of damage” to council housing stock in the borough, Cllr Ibrahim added the council would not have been able to house the family – who have specific needs – immediately, but said the town hall’s housing programme was designed to fix this issue.