A family of refugees has moved into a £ 2million home in one of the country's most exclusive neighbourhoods at taxpayers' expense.
Unemployed Saeed Khaliif is being handed almost £ 8,000 a month to pay the rent on his house, one of the most expensive ever to be funded by housing benefit.
The Somali refugee, 49, demanded to be moved to the six-bedroom property in West Hampstead, North-West London, with his wife Sayida and their children after deciding their previous accommodation was inadequate.
Saeed Khaliif and his wife have been given the luxurious home in the exclusive London neighbourhood
Plush pad: The spacious lounge area in the £ 2m newly refurbished Hampstead home
Their old house, in Coventry, also had six bedrooms but, at £ 1,000 a month, was a fraction of the burden on the Government.
The family say they wanted to be near friends and relatives in the capital.
But it is understood they left damage estimated at £ 600 in the Coventry property and did not pay their final month's rent.
Their new home has a 90ft garden and has been recently refurbished, with an en suite master bedroom, modern kitchen and large living room. It is minutes from West Hampstead Underground station and the neighbourhood is home to comedian Stephen Fry and actress Emma Thompson.
Estate agents described the property as a 'stunning six-bedroom, two reception house' when it was on the market recently for £ 2million.
Raj Sohal, the family's previous landlord, said: 'It was the first time I'd rented to an asylum seeker family. I did it because I felt sorry for them. The fact is they were on every kind of benefit available.
'If the rent on their new property is £ 8,000 I'm sure they are getting a lot more.'
He told The People newspaper: 'We found they'd gone without paying the last month's rent.
'And there were repairs which would have been around £ 600. I didn't chase the money. If the damage had been more I would have gone after them. '
Luxury: The Khaliif's can now count Stephen Fry as a fellow Hampstead neighbour
The sprawling kitchen in the plush home, which also has en suite bathrooms and was advertised to rent for £ 7,800 a month
One of six bedrooms which include en suite rooms or dressing rooms. The family have moved from Coventry where their rent was £ 1,000 a month
Funded by the public purse: The family, who are unemployed, are in one of the most expensive benefit homes ever
Government guidelines state anyone eligible for housing benefit can claim for a private property in any part of the country.
Housing benefit was recently capped at £ 400 per week, but the Khaliifs are able to claim more because they moved before the change came into force. According to property sources, the house was being advertised at a rent of £ 7,800 per month.
It is unclear how many children the family have - but up to eight youngsters have been seen at the property. When approached by The People, Mr Khaliif said: 'This is my house. We've got every right to live here. '
Speaking via his children, who acted as translators, he said he had not worked since arriving in the UK three years ago and admitted he was on benefits.
Residents in the street reacted angrily to the family's move.
An architect in her 20s said: 'It's just not fair, we have worked so hard to get where we are. We only just manage to pay the £ 3,000 rent on our flat and they have that property for nothing. '
Last night Johnny Bucknell, who is on Camden Council's housing committee, said: 'When Camden housing is gridlocked and there is ample room up north, why are we encouraging people to move south?'
The Department of Work and Pensions said the new rules now in force would make the system fairer. 'As claims come up for renewal, people on housing benefit will have to make the same choices as people in work about where they can afford to live,' a spokesman said.
Mr and Mrs Khaliif refused to speak to the Mail yesterday. A handwritten note on their front door read 'Media do not knock. We have nothing to say. '
Camden Council was unavailable for comment last night.
Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why Not debate this issue on Live message boards Our.
The comments below have been moderated in advance.
This just makes segregation worse in this country. It causes resentment. Why should these people get this when they have never worked and paid tax. I worked all my life. I live in a shoe box. Why should they get this for doing nothing. The system is all wrong. The government needs to get its act together and do something about immigration. This government is a WUSS. Ithink Obama was right when he said David the Dunce was a lighweight.
- Jessand, Putney, SW London, 15/8/2011 18:43
This is a Labour controlled borough. What does anyone expect them to do? I for one am NOT surprised. I understood that rules had been imposed on housing costs for renting. Labour appear to have driven a Mercedes McLaren SLR through these rules!!
- Aaaaaa, essex, UK, 15/8/2011 18:36
Does anyone elsa think it would be a good idea to get retired council chiefs and politicians in from, say Argentina or America or Russia to advise the government and councils on housing issues and asylum. Because the Present British government seems to have no idea. They can bring in a foreign advisor for the British Police so I see no problem is getting foreign advisors for the Government.
- Philipspain, Chester, 15/8/2011 18:35
'Now why am I not surprised? - Tynegirl, Bromley'................ Because you still vote for the same old gang of expense fiddling MP's
- Trent, london, 15/8/2011 18:35
WOW, I thought the welfare state in my country was bad! The real fool is the actual person in England who gets up and heads off to work everyday. What mind set took over England? Took over their Politicians? Invaded the minds of the public? Was it liberal, Politicial correctness combined with some type of guilt that made it OK to do this type of insanity? Why is England givng their country away? Why are you turning it into a massive welfare, 3rd world nation on purpose? Sorry but it's hard to feel bad for England since your doing it on purpose which makes it even more insane. Why?
- Kevin, New York City, 15/8/2011 18:30
next there will be tax payers roiting in the streets!
- Sam, Sheffield, 15/8/2011 18:30
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