Family of five in hotel room for three years after lack of help from council

A family of five were forced to spend three years living in a single hotel room while their local council failed to help them find permanent accommodation, a watchdog said.

Bristol City Council did not treat the family’s housing and homelessness applications properly, a Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman investigation found.

The family included two children with visual impairments, who were being schooled in their hotel room, and a baby with disabilities.

They spent from April 2014 to July 2017 in a hotel room with no cooking facilities after being evicted from their private tenancy flat.

A number of council departments were aware of the family’s “appalling housing circumstances” but did not refer them to the Housing Department, the report said.

The father “regularly” tried to register for housing, but these applications were rejected by the council.

On several occasions the family asked the council for help with a deposit after securing a private let, the report noted, but they lost the properties because the council took too long to look at their application.

Compounding their difficulties, in 2015 the council stopped paying for storage costs for the family’s belongings while in the temporary accommodation.

When it accepted his housing application in March 2017, the father successfully bid for a property within two months.

The council said it would not have used its discretion to house the family as it had previously found them intentionally homeless.

The investigation also found that the use of a “pre-application checker”, which prevented people from registering if they met certain criteria, was unlawful. The council no longer uses the checker.

The Ombudsman is recommending the council pay the family £9,000 for the delay in helping them find a suitable home and for the delay in accepting a new homeless application.

The local authority has three months in which to confirm what action it will take.

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