Beds in Sheds - Council Action

Clampdown on illegal outhouses

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Every home in Southall will be paid a visit by the council's enforcement team in a bid to crackdown on illegal outhouses.

An additional £250,000 is being put forward to help tackle unscrupulous landlords who illegally rent outhouses outhouses and unlicensed houses in multiple occupancy (HMOs) across the borough.

A specialist team will be knocking on the door of every home in Southall to determine who lives there and whether it has an outhouse with people living in it.

Working with police colleagues, the council will take enforcement action if the property is being used illegally.

As part of the council’s clampdown officers have already taken enforcement action against a crooked landlord from Southall for operating a HMO without a licence.

Mr Malkit Ram Gill, aged 56, of Gordon Road, Southall appeared at Ealing Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, 1 December 2011. Mr Gill pleaded guilty to failing to obtain a licence for operating a house of multiple occupation at the same address. The court fined Mr Gill £1,300 and was ordered to contribute £1,200 towards the council’s costs. The maximum penalty for this offence is £20,000.

Leader of Ealing Council, Councillor Julian Bell said:

''We take this issue extremely seriously and there is a maximum penalty of £20,000, so we’re disappointed the court didn’t’ impose a higher fine. Landlords who are illegally renting out their outhouses are cultivating a hidden population and that affects everyone.

''The landlords are putting an increasing strain on local resources, such as waste removal, schools and healthcare while profiting from undeclared rental incomes. The structures being illegally rented can often be unsafe and have poor conditions such as no electricity or clean water.''

An illegal outbuilding could be a garage, shed or temporary garden structure being used as sleeping accommodation. Some landlords may not have obtained the council’s permission before building the structure.

Under the Housing Act, landlords of large HMOs – homes where different households share facilities like kitchens or bathrooms – have to obtain a licence from the council.

Before granting a licence the council carries out checks to ensure that risks to people’s safety are minimised and gas and electrical safety certificates are up to date. Regulatory services officers also make sure tenants have appropriate access to facilities like kitchens and bathrooms. The council can also limit the number of tenants allowed to live there to prevent over crowding.

Residents are being urged to contact the council’s outbuilding project team on 020 8825 6655 if they are concerned about an outbuilding in their area. Details will be kept completely confidential.

14th December 2011

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