Maidstone Borough Council has been criticised by a government watchdog and ordered to pay in excess of £4,000 after a private landlord unlawfully evicted a family of homeless refugees.
The young family, including two children, had been living in temporary accommodation in Maidstone, arranged by the authority via a private landlord.
However, following a minor dispute, the family, which were granted asylum two years ago, were ordered to vacate the property because the landlord claimed that they had breached their tenancy agreement.
The landlord was unhappy that the family, who have not been named, caused damage to the property, which included marked walls, stains on the carpet and a broken lampshade.
During the eviction, last July, the landlord put the family’s belongings outside and denied them access to parts of the flat.
The family were forced to move in to a B&B, where they remained for 11 weeks while alternative housing was found.
But the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said the family’s eviction was unlawful because they should have been given a written warning and were legally entitled to 28 days’ notice to vacate the property.
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has now urged Maidstone Borough Council to apologise to the tenants and repay £2,170 for costs incurred, including a week’s B&B accommodation, and a further £2,000 for the distress and inconvenience caused.
Ombudsman Michael King said: “Maidstone council sided with the landlord and allowed him to unlawfully evict this family... without hearing the family's point of view.”