A FAMILY with five children living in an overcrowded two-bed flat have been told there is nowhere else for them to go.

Parwiz Ahmadi, 44, and his wife Shabana, 33, have lived at a housing association flat in Charnwood Court on Basingstoke Road since 2010, with their five children, Sarah, 9, Sadaf, 7, five-year-old twins Omar and Slaiman, and Amir, 2.

Four of the children sleep in one tiny bedroom. At seven and a half square metres, the room is illegally overcrowded. Due to lack of space, Slaiman sleeps on the floor in the children’s bedroom, and Amir sleeps on a futon in the parents’ bedroom.

Omar suffers from a thyroid problem and often wakes up in the middle of the night screaming. “When he wakes up, he wakes up everyone and then it’s really hard to get them back to sleep. In the morning it’s very hard to wake them up,” Parwiz said.

Although the children are happy in general, they have trouble sleeping. “When I go to class, sometimes I have really bad headaches and sometimes I feel very sleepy. I can’t sleep well because he wakes up in the night screaming,” Sarah said. She also complained it was difficult to do her homework.

The flat is damp, and the children’s bedroom especially as it is next to the bathroom. “Sadaf has health problems as well, she has asthma, she uses an inhaler, and she has eczema. The doctor said the damp is not good for Sadaf,” Shabana said.

Parwiz first asked Reading Borough Council [RBC] to move to a bigger place when the twins were born. He said the woman who answered the phone said: “You won’t get a large property because it’s your problem, why do you have so many children?”

Parwiz said: “After that I was really disappointed and I didn’t contact them for a long time, because of the way she answered my question.”

The family sent the council letters from their doctor and health visitor to support their application. Both Parwiz and Shabana have back problems, and struggle on the stairs taking the children up to their second floor flat.

Parwiz, who works at the nearby Morrisons supermarket, said he always pays rent and is not in arrears. He used to bid every two weeks to be moved to a bigger place, but the council told him no house was available.

“We tried to find one privately, but that costs a lot, so I don’t know if I can afford it. It’s really hard to find a house these days. We are really in need of being rehoused,” he said. “In the 21st century I don’t think anybody should sleep on the floor, especially children. We are really worried, stressed, and under pressure. I would be really pleased if we could be rehoused.”

Polly Neate, chief executive at housing charity Shelter, said: “The number of people living in rented homes that are legally classed as overcrowded has skyrocketed in the last decade. Families living in all types of rentals – both private and social – are having to cram into places which are too small to meet their needs, simply because there aren’t enough genuinely affordable homes available.”

A spokesman from RBC said: “The council appreciates the issue this family is facing. The family is already registered on the council’s housing register but require a four bedroom property, of which there are unfortunately very few in the borough.

“Demand for housing in Reading is acute and this means there is a limited supply of council housing, particularly properties of that size. The family should consider talking to their housing association as to what other options may be available through its own stock.”

The children all want to have a pet, but can’t agree on a puppy, kitten, or rabbit. “We want a pet but we can’t in the flat, there wouldn’t be enough space,” Sadaf said.

“I really want a rabbit,” Sarah said. “I’m saving up for one for if we get a house.”