A family of refugees has moved into a £2million home
A family of refugees has moved into a £2million home in one of the country’s most exclusive neighbourhoods at taxpayers’ expense.
Unemployed Saeed Khaliif is being handed almost £8,000 a month to pay the rent on his house, one of the most expensive ever to be funded by housing benefit.
The Somali refugee, 49, demanded to be moved to the six-bedroom property in West Hampstead, North-West London, with his wife Sayida and their children after deciding their previous accommodation was inadequate.
Their old house, in Coventry, also had six bedrooms but, at £1,000 a month, was a fraction of the burden on the Government.
The family say they wanted to be near friends and relatives in the capital.
But it is understood they left damage estimated at £600 in the Coventry property and did not pay their final month’s rent.
Their new home has a 90ft garden and has been recently refurbished, with an en suite master bedroom, modern kitchen and large living room. It is minutes from West Hampstead Underground station and the neighbourhood is home to comedian Stephen Fry and actress Emma Thompson.
Estate agents described the property as a ‘stunning six-bedroom, two reception house’ when it was on the market recently for £2million.
Raj Sohal, the family’s previous landlord, said: ‘It was the first time I’d rented to an asylum seeker family. I did it because I felt sorry for them. The fact is they were on every kind of benefit available.
‘If the rent on their new property is £8,000 I’m sure they are getting a lot more.’
He told The People newspaper: ‘We found they’d gone without paying the last month’s rent.
‘And there were repairs which would have been around £600. I didn’t chase the money. If the damage had been more I would have gone after them.’
Government guidelines state anyone eligible for housing benefit can claim for a private property in any part of the country.
Housing benefit was recently capped at £400 per week, but the Khaliifs are able to claim more because they moved before the change came into force. According to property sources, the house was being advertised at a rent of £7,800 per month.
It is unclear how many children the family have – but up to eight youngsters have been seen at the property. When approached by The People, Mr Khaliif said: ‘This is my house. We’ve got every right to live here.’
Speaking via his children, who acted as translators, he said he had not worked since arriving in the UK three years ago and admitted he was on benefits.
Residents in the street reacted angrily to the family’s move.
An architect in her 20s said: ‘It’s just not fair, we have worked so hard to get where we are. We only just manage to pay the £3,000 rent on our flat and they have that property for nothing.’
Last night Johnny Bucknell, who is on Camden Council’s housing committee, said: ‘When Camden housing is gridlocked and there is ample room up north, why are we encouraging people to move south?’
The Department of Work and Pensions said the new rules now in force would make the system fairer. ‘As claims come up for renewal, people on housing benefit will have to make the same choices as people in work about where they can afford to live,’ a spokesman said.
Mr and Mrs Khaliif refused to speak to the Mail yesterday. A handwritten note on their front door read ‘Media do not knock. We have nothing to say.’
Camden Council was unavailable for comment last night.