Cash boost to fight criminal landlords
PETERBOROUGH is the only area outside of London to be given extra cash to solve the problem of “ruthless landlords” putting up immigrants in shoddy accomodation at extortionate prices.
Housing minister Grant Shapps announced yesterday a £1.8 million fund to tackle “beds in sheds”, giving nine local authorities additional funding to crack down on criminal landlords who take advantage of migrants workers - some of whom are in the country illegally.
Peterborough City Council will receive £70,000. It has said it does receive complaints about several properties which are overcrowded with people living in abysmal conditions, including sheds, particularly in the Central and East Wards in the city.
Sean Evans, housing needs manager for the city, said: “We are receiving complaints about properties which are being rented to numerous individual households, often including children, which are severely overcrowded.
“Evidence has also been found of properties with excessive numbers of individuals in occupation where outbuildings are being used for sleeping in.
“Action will be taken to deal with issues arising from any properties being used in this manner.”
The other areas to receive the cash are all in or around London, including Hounslow and Southwark.
Mr Shapps said the problem is often caused when immigrants illegally enter the UK and then burn their passport to avoid removal.
They then accept accommodation with cramped conditions, dodgy wiring and poor sanitation as an alternative to the streets.
The cash fund has come as a re- sult of the creation of a national taskforce designed to act against criminal landlords and remove illegal immigrants.
Councils are being urged to use their powers to obtain warrants to enter suspect properties without notice to tackle shoddy properties.
City cabinet member for housing Peter Hiller said the extra cash will help the council’s enforcement teams crack down on the problem.
City MP Stewart Jackson also welcomed the cash injection, saying: “Both myself and Cllr Charles Swift have been campaigning for a while for this sort of help.
“It’s about clobbering these landlords and making sure they are chased by the authorities and I think people in Millfield and New England will be pleased by this.”
North Ward councillor Charles Swift, who has several times expressed concern about the living conditions for those living in Houses of Multiple Occupation, said: “Just spitting distance from my home there’s a house where there are between 20 or 30 people living in a property.
“I also know a couple who spent money decorating a house they were renting and improving it, only to be given a day’s notice for eviction by their landlord.”
welcome move: City MP Stewart Jackson.