Asylum-seekers have been taken to court for failure to pay rent but they have no income and have a legal right to food and shelter from the council.
A council spokeswoman said such families could not be evicted because of the council's legal duty to house them. She said the legal action had been taken because of a lack of communication between the housing department and social services.
She added: 'It is to be regretted that this has gone so far. The housing department wanted to balance its books and that was why the action was taken.'