Stevenage family calls foul play after council officer takes over their home

A FAMILY who had to stay in a hostel after their house flooded have called foul play after their council housing officer took over their home.

Sewage flooded the privately-rented home of Samantha McDonough, Graham Woolley and their four children in the Shephall area of Stevenage.

The family said they went to Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) for help in finding temporary accommodation while the damage to their home was rectified by their landlord.

Miss McDonough, 29, explained that a council housing officer secured them a place at a hostel in Stevenage, where they stayed for four months.

She said she and her family had fully expected to move back into the property when it was habitable again, but were told by the landlord that he had decided to sell it.

Miss McDonough explained that the council housing officer stepped in and found them another privately-rented property in Stevenage, which she considered to be far from ideal for her family’s needs.

She said she was subsequently stunned to discover that their home had in fact not been sold, but that the helpful council housing officer had moved into the newly-refurbished property himself.

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“We had wanted to move back into that property,” said Miss McDonough, “but he moved in after it had been done up.

“After being at all our meetings, he was still interacting with us and never said he was in that house. It’s foul play that is. He’s just been looking after himself.

“There’s been something underhand going on the whole way through.

“We are so gutted.”

Miss McDonough said she complained to SBC but was told “they can’t help what he does in his private life”.

Humphrey Maina, the landlord of the property, said: “It was not a conspiracy. There was nothing underhand.”

A spokesman for SBC added: “The council assisted the family by helping to identify a suitable privately-rented property.

“Unfortunately the tenancy was ended following a sewage flood that caused significant damage.

“The council subsequently assisted the family with a tenancy deposit to enable them to move into another privately-rented house that met their housing need.

“Tenancy agreements are made between the landlord and the tenant, independently of the council.

“The council cannot set employee policy in relation to these private agreements, nor would we seek to regulate where employees choose to live.”

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