Inheritance dispute with Brent Council could cost Kilburn family their home

Housing Benefit payments stopped after father declares land left for him in Ireland

A family of seven has issued a desperate plea to council chiefs after they were forced out of the borough and hit with a bill for thousands of pounds.

Isabel Counihan-Sanchez, 33, was joined by dozens of supporters at Kingsgate Community Centre, Kingsgate Road, Kilburn, as she called on Brent Council to drop its claim for backdated benefits last week.

The family had been living in a property provided for them by Brent Council in Carlton Vale, South Kilburn, until 2007 when they returned to Ireland for a year to take care of the father of Anthony Counihan, Isabel’s husband.

Following his death, Mr Counihan’s father left the family some land which – upon returning to Brent and being given housing benefit to live in a house in Kilburn High Road – the family declared to the council.

Despite the family claiming the land to be worthless, the council stripped them of benefits and issued a backdated bill of �46,000.

Council officers determined the land meant the family had assets or savings worth more than �16,000 – the level at which housing benefit is no longer paid. The family say they unsuccessfully tried to sell it and now rent it out for just �18-a-week.

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Isabel said: “This land is a noose round our necks. We were totally honest and open at the beginning and when we found out it would affect us we pleaded for help in getting rid of it.

“The council was not interested at all and we have been given terrible housing advice from the start.”

A council spokesman said: “The family has appealed against the local authority’s assessment and their appeal will be heard at a tribunal hearing administered by HM Courts and Tribunals Service.”