Sisters’ remorse for misusing social housing

house
Two Huddersfield sisters have admitted lying to Kirklees Council and to the Court about their wrongful occupation of a council house.

Hannah Rafiq (29) and Ayshia Rafiq (30) of Trinity Street, Huddersfield, in 2013 applied for a Kirklees Council property, saying that their mother had asked them to move out. Five months on, not being a priority for housing, they re-applied as homeless, saying they were suffering “honour-based” domestic violence from their father and were soon after allocated a three-bed property in Batley. Investigations by the council found the house was not being used and that the siblings continued to live in Huddersfield with their mother.

In individual statements made before a committal hearing was due to take place, the sisters accepted: “Neither I nor my sister or brother lived at the house in Batley, and I accept that I should not have said that it was our only or principal home. We remained during this time at the family home in Huddersfield which is owned by our mother.

“I am very sorry for the damage caused by our actions in depriving a family in real need of accommodation by making unavailable a three-bedroomed house for four years.”

The sisters when investigated continued to lie to council officials about their use of the property and at a five-day possession order hearing brought by the council in 2017. False statements made in the witness box led the Council to bring proceedings for contempt of court which were due to be heard in the High Court in Leeds 24-28 May 2021.

The court has accepted the sisters’ public apologies as an end to the proceedings and commented that the Council has been sensible in negotiating a settlement to avoid the high costs to the public purse of a five-day trial. The sisters also avoid the risk of being sent to prison or fined at the end of a trial. Hannah Rafiq has already paid thousands of pounds in legal costs to the Council. The Court will decide at a short hearing whether the sisters should pay any further costs. 

Naz Parkar, Service Director for Homes and Neighbourhoods at Kirklees Council, said: “Social Housing exists to meet a need in our communities to offer shelter to the most vulnerable and in need. The deception of these sisters led to a property not being able to house a family in need for four years.

 
“The Rafiq sisters admit deception and have learnt the consequences of their dishonesty and realise they were close to a prison sentence. I would also like to praise our investigative team who work tirelessly to ensure our houses are occupied by genuine claimants. I would also like to thank the members of the public who brought their concerns to our attention.” 

This trial brings to an end an eight-year drama for the sisters. You can read the public statements issued by the sisters below. 

PUBLIC STATEMENT OF HANNAH ASHFAQ RAFIQ 

In 2013, I applied for and was allocated a property by Kirklees Council. I accept that I should not have done so. 

Kirklees Council granted me a tenancy of a three-bedroomed Council house in Batley. In the application I stated that my sister, Ayshia Rafiq, and my brother would occupy the house with me. Neither I nor my sister or brother lived at the house in Batley, and I accept that I should not have said that it was our only or principal home. We remained during this time at the family home in Huddersfield which is owned by our mother.

I am very sorry for the damage caused by our actions in depriving a family in real need of accommodation by making unavailable a three-bedroomed house for four years.

I accept that taking this Council property was wrong, and I am sorry for deceiving Kirklees Council staff while the Council was investigating our use of the house in Batley. I am also sorry for maintaining our story through a five-day trial in 2018 (which resulted in the Council taking back possession of the house in Batley) and the subsequent contempt of court proceedings issued against me and my sister by the Council in 2019-2020. Both court cases have cost very large amounts of public money, Kirklees staff time, and Legal Aid which could have been avoided had I not acted in the way that I did.

I realise that I have done wrong and would urge anyone considering obtaining and occupying a Council property by deception to act responsibly and truthfully. I accept that Kirklees Council was right to retake possession of the house and to issue contempt of court proceedings against me and my sister which could have resulted in us receiving a prison sentence. The court has now agreed to end the proceedings against us in light of my agreement with the Council that I make this public apology.

 


 

PUBLIC STATEMENT OF AYSHIA RAFIQ

In 2013, my sister, Hannah Ashfaq Rafiq, applied for and was allocated a property by Kirklees Council. I accept that she should not have done so. 

Kirklees Council granted my sister a tenancy of a three-bedroomed Council house in Batley. In the application she stated that our brother and I would occupy the house with her. Neither I nor my sister or brother lived at the house in Batley, and I accept that I should not have said that it was our only or principal home. We remained during this time at the family home in Huddersfield which is owned by our mother.
I am very sorry for the damage caused by our actions in depriving a family in real need of accommodation by making unavailable a three-bedroomed house for four years.

I accept that taking this Council property was wrong, and I am sorry for deceiving Kirklees Council staff while the Council was investigating our use of the house in Batley. I am also sorry for maintaining our story through a five-day trial in 2018 (which resulted in the Council taking back possession of the house in Batley) and the subsequent contempt of court proceedings issued against me and my sister by the Council in 2019-2020. Both court cases have cost very large amounts of public money, Kirklees staff time, and Legal Aid which could have been avoided had I not acted in the way that I did.

I realise that I have done wrong and would urge anyone considering obtaining and occupying a Council property by deception to act responsibly and truthfully. I accept that Kirklees Council was right to retake possession of the house and to issue contempt of court proceedings against me and my sister which could have resulted in us receiving a prison sentence. The court has now agreed to end the proceedings against us in light of my agreement with the Council that I make this public apology.

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