Family on benefits moves to exclusive €2m London home
Published 15/08/2011 | 15:35
A family who fled war torn Somalia for Britain have exchanged their modest home in the West Midlands for a £2m (€2.3m) detached house.
And the taxpayer is picking up the tab for the house in one of London’s most expensive neighbourhoods.
Taking advantage of housing benefit rules introduced by the last Labour Government, jobless Saeed Khaliif, 49, his wife Sayida and their children have been able to set up home in fashionable West Hampstead, an area beyond the reach of many well heeled house-hunters in the capital.
The family, who had been living in a semi-detached house in Coventry, were able to move south and sign what is believed to be a £2,000 a week lease for the six bedroom property despite having no connection with their new area.
The house, on a leafy street close to where Oscar winning actress Emma Thompson lives, is estimated to be worth £2m.
But under the old housing benefit rules there was nothing preventing the Khaliif family applying for Camden Council to pick up the £8,000 rent bill.
Neither Mr Khaliif nor his wife claim to speak English and refused to explain why they had moved to London from Coventry.
In April the Government introduced a cap on housing benefit of £400 a week, but it is thought the Khaliif family moved before the change was introduced.
The house, which has a large garden at the rear and is just a two minute walk from the trendy bars, restaurants and cafés of West End Lane, was bought by the current owner in 2008 for £1,480,000.
The property next door was recently offered for rent for £1,850 a week.
A spokesman for Camden Council said: “We cannot comment on individual cases.”
The Government acted to change the rules after the housing benefit bill soared from £14bn in 2000 to £21bn in 2010.
But critics claim the changes could lead to a mass exodus of families from the capital to the towns of the Home Counties where rents are slightly cheaper.