Family of 13 in eight-bed house fear being made homeless in days

A family of 13 have been handed an eviction notice from their local council and now fear they will end up homeless.

Clifford Westfall and Clare Patterson, along with their nine children, live in a large eight-bedroom house in Keighley, Bradford – Clifford’s brother and Clair’s brother also live with them in order to provide extra care support.

The large family is now living in fear of being torn apart after Bradford Council informed them that they must leave their home of two-and-a-half years by January 26, the Yorkshire Live reports.


Clifford, 37, said: “All we want to do is be together as a family.”

If they are unable to find another property by the deadline, the family fears they will be forced to move into a hostel.

The privately-rented property on Green Head Road costs the couple £1,000 a month and they are desperate to remain in the area.

Clifford Westfall and Clair Patterson

This is because the seven youngest children all go to school in Keighley and the family business, a toy shop located in the town centre, is only a mile away from the current property.

Clair said: “If we lived elsewhere, it would be physically impossible for me to get seven kids to four different schools and then get to work. It just wouldn’t happen.

“We don’t want the huge change. We want to keep everything as normal and as happy as we possibly can.

“Keeping the children in Keighley, where they know, is the only way of doing that.”

But an extension to the property, which was built by the landlord, breaches planning regulations because it exceeded the agreed dimensions which now classifies the house as too tall.

Three separate attempts for planning applications alongside an appeal to the government’s planning inspector have all failed.

Due to the dispute, the council obtained a compulsory purchase order on the property.

After Clifford and Claire were told to leave by January 26, they claim they asked the council for help to find somewhere else to live after struggling to find anywhere suitable.

“There is nothing on the market for a family of our size,” said Clifford.

“We used to live in a three-bedroom house a few years ago. We were so happy, even though it was so small, but it just wasn’t big enough.

“Since we have been in this big house, we have never been secure or comfortable.

“The council say they can’t put us in a four or five-bedroom house, because it would be overcrowded, but we need to be together.”

It even got to the point where the couple say they asked whether they could have two homes knocked through into one.

“We’re not trying to be money-grabbers,” said Clifford. “We’re completely willing to pay our way.

“We pay £1,000 a month in rent. We pay £378 a month council tax, we pay all the bills on our house.

“We’re not wanting to take anything from the system for free. We work for everything we’ve got.

“We don’t want a big house and for it to be cheap. We will pay. We just want to be together.”

Clifford Westfall (centre) and Clair Patterson (centre left) with their nine children

Clair added: ” We will pay two sets of council tax, two sets of bills, but the council said we couldn’t do it like that.”

The local authority told YorkshireLive that it was trying to extend the deadline beyond January 26, but this has not yet been formally approved.

A spokesperson added the council “will continue to support” the family throughout the process and is looking into the possibility of providing “two accommodation units adjacent or in close proximity to each other”.

Despite this, Clifford and Clair claim they have been told their family could be moved into a hostel.

“When they said that, I thought: ‘Is that for real?’” said Clifford.

“What’s one foot or two feet compared to making a family homeless?

“If we had to [leave Keighley] we’d do it.

“But a hostel? It just can’t happen. It wouldn’t work.”

Clifford Westfall (centre) and Clair Patterson (centre left) with their family

While the couple have had one child together, they have custody for the eight other children who are from previous relationships – the youngest is two-years-old, while the oldest is 19.

Local councillor Mohsin Hussain claims he has tried to encourage the council to provide more help for the family.

He said : “It is very difficult to find another property of this size, but I have said to the council that we need to find another property for Clifford and his family to move into – or to extend the deadline.

“The council is not in the wrong on this, but there needs to be support from the council and from the housing associations for Clifford and his family.

“I wouldn’t want this to happen to me and I certainly wouldn’t want this to happen to any of my constituents.”

But the family, who spent Christmas with the deadline looming large over their heads, are still no closer to finding somewhere else to live.

“All we want to do is be together as a family,” said Clifford. “We don’t want to be in a hostel in the middle of nowhere.

“We don’t want to take stuff from people, we don’t want freebies, we don’t want handouts. We just want some help.

“We want to keep the family together and keep the family safe.”

While the couple claim they pay their rent to Jigsaw Property Services. However, a spokesperson for the letting agent said : “We did manage the property for a short time, but we don’t let the property out anymore.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for Bradford Council said: “The breach that Mr Westfall appears to be referring to relates to planning permission rather than building regulations. This was obtained by the owner of the property in 2018 to extend the house however, the actual works carried out went beyond that approved resulting in an unauthorised increase in the overall height of the property.

“Three separate retrospective planning applications for an increase in the roof height have been submitted since the works were undertaken. These applications were all refused and an appeal to the government’s planning inspector by the owner challenging the decision was dismissed on May 28, 2020.

“In view of this and as the owner failed to rectify the breach, an enforcement notice was issued requiring them to carry out the work in accordance with the approved planning permission or demolish the unauthorised works. No appeal was submitted against the enforcement notice and therefore it should have been complied with by August 18, 2021.

“With regard to rehousing Mr Westfall and his family, Mr Westfall and his family have been assessed by the Local Authority’s Housing Options Service in accordance with the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

“The Housing Options Officer is currently exploring suitable rehousing options in the private and social housing sectors. This also includes providing two accommodation units adjacent or in close proximity to each other.

“Should Mr Westfall become homeless before the eviction deadline, the Local Authority will have a statutory duty to offer temporary accommodation with one of our commissioned providers. The temporary accommodation offer, if needed, will be in the same location. The Local Authority will continue to support Mr Westfall and his family during this rehousing process.

“The council is currently in the process of preparing legal documentation to extend the current deadline of the January 26, 2022 to allow additional time to source suitable housing options for Mr Westfall and his family. He will be in receipt of this documentation within the next seven days.”

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