Ellie Riches, 35, has slept on the floor for four years while sharing the small studio flat infested with mice
A woman who has been forced to share a tiny bedroom with her two children has said she suffers from anxiety after being told that the council will not move her and her family for five years.
Ellie Riches, 35, has slept on the floor for four years while sharing a small studio flat infested with mice in Pimlico, London.
Her 16-month-old son Nathaniel and daughter Kenzie, five, have struggled to live or sleep in their three-room council home.
She told MyLondon : “Bedtimes are atrocious. When they go to bed, I sit in the bath to watch something so it’s quiet and they can get some sleep.”
She said she felt “squashed and claustrophobic” and that there was not enough space in the flat for her children to play safely.
The lack of space also made it difficult for her to help her daughter with her homework when her infant son needed to rest. She added: “I feel squashed and claustrophobic. It’s a tight squeeze, even for a couple.
“My partner can’t stay here and there’s no room for the children to play if they have friends over.”
Ellie said Nathaniel was hospitalised with meningitis last year when he was a few weeks old. When she came back to the flat, she found it was infested with mice.
She said: “It didn’t help that I was watching I’m a Celebrity at the time we had mice running around.
“I had to throw away my sofa bed because it was riddled with the things. I opened it up and there were droppings everywhere.
“I’ve got a mouse here that runs about all the time. Every morning I have to get up and hoover the floors so they don’t get hold of mice poop.”
Ellie said she cannot afford to rent privately and has been trying to get a bigger property from Westminster City Council since 2017.
But the council has reportedly told her it will take five years for her family to be eligible for a larger property once Kenzie reaches ten.
There are currently over 4,000 households waiting for council homes in Westminster. According to Foxtons estate agency, the average rent for a two-bed flat in Pimlico is £3,050.
Ellie said she cannot move out of Westminster because her whole family lives there, including her seriously-ill mum who she sometimes has to care for.
She said: “No one seems to want to help. They just seem to think this is adequate.
“I have enough anxiety just going out. It’s bad, but then I don’t want to go back home.
“I would lose the majority of my issues if I had a bigger property.”
Cllr David Harvey, the council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “Everyone in Westminster deserves to live in high-quality, comfortable homes and I understand Ms Riches’ frustrations with her current living situation and previous issues, which were quickly resolved, in her home.
“Despite Westminster’s 21,000 social homes and the similar number provided by housing charities, Westminster faces housing demand from many quarters as it is such a popular place to live and draws people who want to benefit from its quality of life, job and education opportunities.
“Thus there are more than 4,000 households on a waiting list for the council’s accommodation in Westminster – many London boroughs have extensive housing waiting lists, often larger than ours.
“We are legally obliged to allocate our homes to those who are next in line and this also makes it fair to everyone.
“No one is housed over-crowded but naturally families can grow and change and this leads to dilemmas in housing.
“In Westminster, building new properties is one of our key commitments in our ‘City for All’, to enable people of all backgrounds, needs and aspirations to live in the area.
“Our City Plan published last year sets out that by 2040, we would have delivered 20,000 new homes, of which at least 35% will be affordable, helping people and families move in to well-designed, green and affordable homes.”