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CROYDON MOTHER TO PAY RENT ARREARS DESPITE NON-OCCUPANCY

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A young Croydon mother who claims she was charged more than£1,000 rent for an 'uninhabitable' council flat has fai...
A young Croydon mother who claims she was charged more than £1,000 rent for an 'uninhabitable' council flat has failed in her legal bid for housing benefit to cover the debt.

Caroline Osland, 27, found herself in a Catch 22 situation when Croydon Council charged her rent for the home, but refused to pay housing benefit while she made it habitable, the court heard.

But Mr Justice MacPherson refused to open the way for a full Judicial Review of the mother's claims, saying Croydon Council's handling of her case could not be faulted in law. He said the housing department acted lawfully in charging rent from the beginning of the tenancy - as opposed to the commencement of occupation - of the flat. And he said the council also acted within the law by not paying housing benefit for the time Mrs Osland was living with her parents.

Mrs Osland had stayed with her parents for four months while her boyfriend attempted to make the flat habitable and was refused housing benefit until she took up occupation, the court was told.

More than £1,000 in rent arrears accrued before she was able to move onto the Shrublands Estate, Shirley, with her daughter Gemma, who was then aged just a few months, the court heard. The Council has now obtained a possession order against the flat because of the debt and Ms Osland risks eviction unless she pays.

The council acknowledged the poor repair of the flat by approving a £410 grant for redecoration, counsel alleged. But the condition of the flat was such that only two of the five rooms were usable, counsel alleged. Mr Justice MacPherson said: 'I have sympathy for people of little means in cold and damp flats. But there is no case for a Judicial Review.'

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