Ministers Join 'Beds in Sheds' Clampdown

Authorities swoop on 'suburban shanty town' in the borough

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Ministers Damien Green and Grant Shapps attend operation in Ealing Borough

Police join in the operation

Clampdown on illegal outhouses

The Southall Shed People

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Two Government ministers today (31st August) joined an operation to tackle illegal outhouses in the borough of Ealing.

Six properties were entered by officials from Ealing Council and the UK Border Agency with the support of the police. 39 individuals were found during the visit of whom 22 were illegal immigrants. 19 were detained (three were required to report to a Reporting Centre because they were a couple with a young child). Of the 19 detainees, 16 were Indian nationals and three were Pakistani nationals.

The action comes as Ministers launch a major clampdown on rogue landlords to bring an end to suburban shanty towns that they say trap vulnerable people in dangerous living conditions.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Immigration Minister Damian Green have launched new guidance to councils making clear the wide range of powers at their disposal to shut down so-called 'beds in sheds' that blight entire neighbourhoods and take action against other bad practice by landlords such as overcrowding and poor maintenance.

Mr Shapps and Mr Green saw the evidence for themselves when they attended an early morning visit on a suspected rogue landlord's properties, and witnessed the squalid conditions the 'tenants' paid hundreds of pounds a week to live in.

The new guidance highlights the range of actions councils can take to clamp down on rogue landlords once and for all. These include:

  • proactively identifying problem properties and effectively working through complaints;
  • taking action using a full range of legal powers to stop rogue landlord activities;
  • working with other organisations including the police and UK Border Agency to tackle linked criminal behaviour;
  • prosecuting landlords who persistently let illegal property;
  • providing evidence of landlord's earnings to magistrates to ensure they receive an appropriate level of fine for offences;
  • naming and shaming prosecuted landlords by publicising successful cases;
  • working with the new national taskforce which has been set up between Whitehall departments, the police, the UK Border Agency and local government. The taskforce is exploring all possible options for closing down 'beds in sheds'.

Thousands of sheds and outbuildings are being rented out illegally to migrants by landlords who charge them extortionate rents to live in cramped conditions.

These 'tenants' can often find it difficult to return home quickly with some having destroyed their passports to avoid removal often leaving them to either live in these outbuildings or face living on the streets.

Grant Shapps said, "It's simply unacceptable that people are living in squalid, unsafe accommodation provided by landlords more interested in a quick profit rather then their basic responsibilities.

"The actions of these rogue landlords are helping fuel illegal working and benefit fraud and creates a shadow housing market that carries dangers to peoples health as well as community relations.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: "The UK Border Agency continues to gather intelligence about those illegally in the country. Those with no right to be in the UK must leave the country. If they need help to leave the country voluntarily we will offer it but if they refuse we will enforce there removal."

Today's guidance is backed up by the recent allocation of £1.8million to councils earlier this year to tackle the issue and flush out those landlords renting out 'beds in sheds'.

August 31, 2012

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