'We could be split up' - Family of seven in desperate race to find a new home
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
A family of seven from North Norfolk face being split up and having their children's education disrupted unless they can find a new home before the end of October.
Lisa Smith and her husband, who live in West Beckham, have five children aged between 11 and 17.
The family have privately rented their current home for eight years and originally moved to the area so their 13-year-old son Oliver, who has Down's syndrome, could attend Sheringham Woodfields School.
But when their landlord died last year, the Smiths were told they would no longer be able to live in the property and would need to move out by the end of October 2021.
Mrs Smith said the family wanted to stay in the area to avoid disruption to their children's education, especially Oliver's whose school has said it would be "detrimental to his mental health" if he were to be moved.
Mrs Smith said as soon as she became aware of their situation she contacted North Norfolk District Council and began looking for houses on the private market.
"We need to find somewhere to live in this area but there's nothing. Every house that there is has six, seven people going for it.
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"We need at least four bedrooms but really five, the council has said they could help us but if they do we could possibly go into emergency accommodation and we could be split up," she said.
Mrs Smith said her family's situation has highlighted the shortage of housing for local people in North Norfolk.
She said because of the size of the family and their needs, she felt as though NNDC had "brushed" them off so they were not the local authority's "problem" anymore.
"Why should we have to leave our area? It's not our fault, we have always paid our rent, council tax, everything that we should have to pay and in our time of need they seem to be brushing us off," Mrs Smith added.
A spokesperson for North Norfolk District Council said the council was "aware of the family’s circumstances" and had "provided relevant advice based on their need for permanent accommodation in the medium term."
NNDC said it was working with the Smiths and housing association partners to "establish how their housing needs might be met moving forward given their particular requirements" but was unable to comment further on individual housing support cases.
If you think you might be able to help the Smith family or know of a suitable property they may be able to rent email: email@example.com