A housing officer suggested a bath tub and a dining table could be used as children’s “beds”, a Northampton family who complained of overcrowding in their house has claimed.
Care home worker Angela Hemmings lives with her daughter and her four grandchildren in in Kings Heath.
The 59-year-old has been asking Northampton Partnership homes whether her family can move to a bigger property since July as she says they are crammed into two small bedrooms and a box room at night.
But she has been repeatedly told she cannot go on the waiting list because her home does not meet the statutory limit for overcrowding set by the Government.
In a recent assessment of her house, she claims she was told by an NPH housing officer that she could alleviate her problems by “putting a board over the bathtub” to turn it into a bed, or doing the same to the dining room table.
Ms Hemmings said: “Under no circumstances is my daughter or any of my grandchildren sleeping in a
bathroom, it just isn’t happening.”
Ms Hemmings has been a social housing tenant for nearly 30 years and says she just wants to be put on the waiting list, she does not expect a house straight away.
Her situation was aired as part of a Northampton Borough Council debate on overcrowding in the Guildhall on Monday.
A Labour motion put to the full council asked the controlling Conservative group to do “what it can to help alleviate overcrowding in homes, including going beyond statutory our duties”. It was turned down.
The council’s cabinet member for housing, Councillor Stephen Hibbert, (Con, Riverside) said he could not support the Labour motion because the council’s housing allocations policy is currently under review anyway
and it will be looking at how it addresses overcrowded homes.
In Kings Heath alone, it is understood there are more than 50 families living in one bedroom flats that are not classed as overcrowded.
But Councillor Hibbert said: “There are guidelines and as you know we must work within the law.
“But this is a far more complex issue than it appears.
“How do you determine allocating a home between a family lacking a bedroom or someone who has to move because of a serious medical condition?”
Under housing regulations a household will not be classed as overcrowded as long as there is a separate room for a couple, a single adult aged 21 or older and two young people of the opposite sex aged 10 or over. Children under 10 are not counted, which the Labour Group believes needs to change. Northampton Partnership Homes spokesman said the organisation had to enforce the council’s housing allocations policy and would not move families unless they met the statutory overcrowding limit.
He said: “The current housing allocation policy accepts a reasonable preference to households who have been assessed as being statutorily overcrowded.
“Those families who are assessed and do not meet statutory overcrowding are generally not allowed access to the housing register unless they have another housing need such as medical or welfare grounds.”