The family of nine travellers living in a $1million home paid for by benefits
Last updated at 12:30 AM on 12th August 2009
A family of travellers is living in a $1million house at taxpayers' expense.
John and Serena Connors and their seven children have their rent paid by housing benefit.
Their landlady is trying to evict them because she claims they have caused tens of thousands of pounds of damage.
Luxury: The house the travellers live in has five bedrooms and three bathrooms
Her case is lent weight by a leaflet issued by the Metropolitan Police allegedly about the family, which claims they are suspects in a series of 'distraction' burglaries.
But the parents, who have five girls and two boys aged four to 19, are determined to stay put and are threatening legal action over 'racism against travellers'.
The Connors moved into the home in February with the help of Barnet Council in North London. They are benefiting from the Local Housing Allowance, which was introduced last year to encourage private landlords to take in the homeless because of a shortage of council housing.
The council is under obligation to find them a large enough house, hence the family being placed in one of the most expensive areas.
The property in Totteridge, which has been valued at nearly £1million, has five bedrooms and three bathrooms and lies on a usually peaceful street.
Businesswoman Sapna Bukhari and her IT project manager husband Zulfi, both 38, used to rent it to professionals for $4,000 a month.
But with the market deteriorating they agreed to let it out to the Connors for £2,400 a month through housing benefit, after being assured that they were 'good tenants'.
Mrs Bukhari alleged: 'Within a few weeks of them moving in, a radiator was pulled off the wall and the water from it made the ceiling collapse.
'They failed to tell us about it promptly, they threatened me, my builder and my plumber, they abused me - calling me a "Paki" - and gave anti-Semitic abuse to neighbours.
' They've twice blocked the drains so sewage has flowed on to the pavement, have thrown food, clothes, cat excrement and all manner of rubbish into the gardens, and shout and scream vile obscenities.
Parents: John and Serena Connors
'They won't even let the builders come in to carry out repairs. I'm worried the damage will cost tens of thousands.'
Mrs Bukhari went on to claim that she had run into problems with paperwork while trying to evict them because the Connors 'seem to know the system'.
'Social services are paying their rent but I'm sure they will not stump up for the damage', she added.
The police leaflet was issued by the Totteridge Safer Neighbourhood Team to all houses in the street except the Connors.
Although the family is not named, officers apparently readily confirm to neighbours that members of it are involved.
Headed 'Warning', the leaflet tells of thieves targeting homes by 'asking to use your toilet and general stories of hard luck'. It says: 'All will end in them trying to enter your house and steal anything they can get their hands on.'
It adds that the suspects are 'from the travelling community', and describes two teenage girls with Irish accents.
Mrs Connors, who is originally from County Wexford in Ireland, agreed that the leaflet was targeted at her family but said: 'I'm making a complaint to the police about this leaflet.
'My kids are cheeky but they aren't thieves. We haven't damaged the house either.
'The landlady doesn't like traveller. It's racism, I'm going to get her done for harassment.'
She added that she didn't even want to live in the house and would prefer to be in a travellers' camp.
'They put people into places you wouldn't put dogs into,' she said.
A spokesman for Barnet Council said anyone evicted for unreasonable behaviour would not be rehoused, and a source said they were not aware of the family ever asking for an alternative home.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said the force had not received a complaint about the leaflet.
June 2021 May 2021 April 2021 March 2021 February 2021 January 2021 December 2020 November 2020 October 2020 September 2020 August 2020 July 2020 June 2020 May 2020 April 2020 March 2020 February 2020 January 2020 December 2019 November 2019 October 2019 September 2019 August 2019 July 2019 June 2019 May 2019 April 2019 March 2019 February 2019 January 2019 December 2018 November 2018 October 2018 September 2018 August 2018 July 2018 June 2018 May 2018 April 2018 March 2018 February 2018 January 2018 December 2017 November 2017 October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 May 2017 April 2017 March 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 November 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 March 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 November 2015 October 2015 September 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 April 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008