Westminster family compensated £250 but still await council home

Westminster City Hall. Picture: Westminster City Council

Westminster City Hall. Picture: Westminster City Council - Credit: Archant

A family of five say they are living in a Westminster flat so cramped that their toddler does not have any space to play.

The family are among 145 households in the borough waiting to be rehoused in three-bedroom homes.

A report by the Housing Ombudsman said: “Mr X and his family continue to live in accommodation which is overcrowded and unsuitable for their needs. 

“He says there is not enough space for his youngest child to play in the flat and it is difficult to carry his child’s buggy up the stairs because there is no lift in the block.”

Westminster City Council (WCC) first started looking after the family’s father, referred to only as Mr X, in September 2020 when he was homeless.

In November 2020 the family were put in a two-bedroom flat in an outer London borough. 

At the time they had two children aged under 10 but when their third child was born in January 2021 the property became overcrowded. Mr X complained to the council that the flat was too small for their needs.

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But the council ruled that the home was big enough for the family and said the youngest child could sleep in a cot in their parents’ room or in the living room.

Despite a council officer saying the property was suitable, the family were put on the temporary accommodation transfer list in June 2021 due to overcrowding. They are still waiting for a new home.

WCC has been asked to pay the family £250 in compensation as it did not tell the family it thought the property was suitable. The family were unaware they could ask the council to review its decision.

The council's new leader, Adam Hug, has promised to try to solve the borough’s housing crisis. 

According to the Labour councillor, residents are having to wait up to 10 years for a secure home and there are as many as 4,000 people on the borough’s wanting list.

Currently there are 145 families living in temporary accommodation, waiting for a three-bedroom property with some residents waiting five years for a home. 

The council currently has 610 three-bedroom properties in use as temporary accommodation and 350 of these properties are outside the borough.

The council has directly purchased 68 three-bedroom properties to increase its supply of temporary accommodation.

WCC was contacted for comment.