14/08/2014 12:54 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Family Of Six Living In Tent Because They Won't Give Up Their Pets

Family of six living in tent because they won't give up their pets

A family of six are living in a tent at the bottom of a friend's garden after being refused a council house because they would not give away their four pet dogs and three budgies.

Lorraine Botton, 54, and her five grown up children moved from East Sussex to Kent with the promise of a new home. They claim they were told to abandon their pets if they wanted a council property, so turned the house down.

For the last six weeks the family have been camping in a friend's garden and cooking on a portable stove.

Lorraine is squeezed inside the 12ft by 10ft tent - designed to sleep four - with children Moses, 18, Caleb, 19, Genty, 22, Louise, 26, and Naomi, 36 - as well as their pets.

It has two sleeping compartments designed for two adults in each and a central communal area. They've managed to find room for some home comforts including a TV, fridge, tumble dryer, iron, an electric heater and lamps.

But they have no running water and are relying on their friends for their toilet, washing and laundry facilities.

Housing chiefs in Maidstone, Kent have warned Lorraine it could be Christmas before a property which allows pets becomes available. But she still refuses to get rid of her precious pets and said she would squat if nothing is found before winter.

She told her local paper: "I feel scared that someone will unzip the tent and hurt us, or even murder us. We need a property as soon as possible so we are safe. I just want to be able to lock my front door.

"If we don't get a house soon, we will have to squat. I've been told there might not be anything available until Christmas, and we can't wait that long. We'll freeze to death.

"The tent leaks and it is cold. I have to go outside with a little cooker to make food, often in the rain. That is not right. I shouldn't have to beg people for baths or to do my washing."

Lorraine, who suffers from epilepsy and arthritis, claims she was hounded out of their last home in Hastings, East Sussex.

She and her family stayed in a B&B for two years before moving to Maidstone in August to be closer to relatives.

A Maidstone Borough Council spokesman said he could not comment on specific housing applications but admitted there was a 'limited supply' of social housing.

He said: "We have a responsibility to provide families in priority housing need with emergency accommodation, and whilst they are in temporary accommodation to assess their need.

"If we accept a family on to the housing register, it can take some time to find suitable accommodation depending on their circumstances and availability."#

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