Council apology over pest-ridden home offer for evicted family

Struggle to rehouse evicted family whose case has been supported by housing activists, reports Victoria Munro, Local Democracy Reporter

Nadia Zamin (inset) and the room she and her three young children were offered as temporary accommodation within an eight-bedroom house
Nadia Zamin (inset) and the room she and her three young children were offered as temporary accommodation within an eight-bedroom house

Waltham Forest Council has apologised “unreservedly” after trying to house a family of four in one room of an Ilford house that had dead mice in the kitchen.

Nadia Zamin, a 38-year-old single mother and lifelong borough resident, is facing homelessness after her private landlord tried to evict her earlier this week.

On Tuesday, 29th June an attempt to evict her and her children – aged ten, eight and four years old – from their house in Lime Street, Walthamstow, was stopped by a blockade of local campaigners.

Nadia was offered temporary accommodation in Ilford by the council that same day but said she discovered yesterday that it was one room in a filthy eight-bedroom house.

She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Everyone staying there said it was no good. It was all single men, there were no other families or children.

“We found cigarettes in the toilet and a sign saying people were stealing everyone’s food. My son needs to have his medicine in the fridge, what if someone takes that?

“How could [the council] expect me to move my children there, they would not put their own children there.”

Nadia was horrified to find three dead mice in the kitchen and said that, while the room she was offered had a lock, she would feel uncomfortable having her ten-year-old daughter and two young sons share a home with strangers.

She was originally told she must accept or refuse the Ilford room – with refusal meaning the council would discharge its responsibility to house her – by 12.30pm the following day.

However, in a statement issued late last night, a council spokesperson said it cancelled its plan to house the family there as soon as it heard about the “hygiene issues”.

They said: “On the afternoon of Thursday, 1st July, we were made aware of hygiene issues at a property arranged as temporary accommodation for a family being evicted by a private landlord. As soon as we were notified the booking was cancelled.

“We apologise unreservedly to the family involved. We will continue to work with them to find a solution in the short and longer term.”

Nadia said this morning that she was pleased but was surprised that she had yet to be informed of this decision by the council herself.

She was first threatened with eviction at the end of 2019, when the breakdown of her marriage meant she could no longer pay the rent.

She said that, despite providing the council with all the necessary paperwork and the extra time afforded by lockdown, she heard very little from them until the day of her attempted eviction. However, she appreciated the support of Waltham Forest Trades Council, Cooperation Town and London Renters Union, which organised the blockade on Tuesday, and said her children’s school, Mission Grove Primary, had also “been very helpful”.