Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Shapps launches beds in sheds crack down

The government is calling on councils to clamp down on rogue landlords that rent squalid outhouses to vulnerable people.

Housing minister Grant Shapps and immigration minister Damian Green have launched guidance for local authorities outlining the actions they should be taking to deal with the so called ‘beds in sheds’.

These include identifying properties, prosecuting landlords, ensuring appropriate sentences are handed out, and publicising successful cases to discourage other rogue landlords.

In March this year communities secretary Eric Pickles said some councils are not doing enough to tackle the problem. This was followed in May by the announcement of £1.8 million to help councils in the worst hit areas, and the government has also set up a taskforce to address the issue.

The Communities and Local Government department said ‘thousands’ of sheds and outbuildings are being rented out to vulnerable migrants.

Mr 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 people’s health as well as community relations.

‘I want to see all agencies from councils to the police and the UK Border Agency using the full range of powers at their disposal to work together on a national clampdown towards ridding our communities of this problem once and for all.’

Mr Shapps and Mr Green accompanied officials from the UKBA and Ealing Council on a raid of suspected illegal properties this morning. In six properties they found 39 tenants, 22 of whom were illegal immigrants.

Readers' comments (51)

  • Iron Fist

    I strongly suspect the benefit fraud angle of the argument weighs far more heavily with Pickles and Shapps than the idea of people living in squalid and unsafe conditions.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Progressive Solutions Required

    Mr 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. - I thought that it was Shapps's policy to enable such conditions and then let HB take the strain! And then if you look at the house concerned in this particular raid, it is a former RTB now in the hands of a private landlord maxing out their rents and harbouring illegal immigrants (what a great advert for abolishing the right-to-buy, but I'm sure the Minister missed the linkage!)

    It is great to see action being taken on this issue - if only it was consistent with wider housing policy though, for instance the removal of housing standards and regulation, the watering down of tenant rights and means to complain, and the enablement of profiteering by landlords seem to be making all rented housing as if it were beds in sheds.

    But I think the biggest contradiction from Shapps in this is that he states that landlords who are persistent offenders will be prosecuted. That implies that a blind eye or a smack on the wrists will be the approach for many. Yet in terms of squatters there is no persistence required for the homeless person to be criminalised, tried and jailed for their first offence.

    Well done to Ealing Council for taking this initiative though - at last the mess left behind by the former Tory administration is being cleaned up.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I love the fact that the managed to squeeze a mosque into the background on the photos, especially on the photo of just Shapps & Green where it really could have been cut differently. Furthermore these shots are into the sun, if taken facing the other way they would have been better from a lighting point of view - what are they trying to say?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I'm not quite sure what you're trying to imply here, but it may help to clarify that these pics were supplied by DCLG.

  • Melvin Bone

    If its a seprate dwelling surely just rating it for Council Tax would be a deterrant. Especially as it would count as a second home...

    Are you sure that is a minaret in the background? It could be a flue.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Rick Campbell

    Somebody should launch Shapps?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Alpha One

    The real question here is why are Councils spending thousands, if not millions, on surveilance of people putting their bins out on the wrong day, putting the wrong kind of rubbish in bins and whether people are abusing the blue badge system, when they should be helping people in genuine need.

    RIPA was designed to stop terrorism, but is being used by Councils in a Stasi stateesque way. Yet when it comes to tackling a real problem, something of substance, they are no where to be seen. Not a camera in a tin can, not a motion activated sensor, not even a bloke on a bike with a camera or an interfering busy body.

    Could it be more to do with the fact that this problem is almost entirely confined to a certain demographic whom those in power are afraid of upsetting.

    For the same reasons the same demographic have blind eye turned to various other practises of their culture, so we have overcrowding and, essentially, people traficking/slavery as an underground problem that we're not allowed to talk about in "polite" company.

    The solution is quite simple. Use the snitch system councils use to spot dog mess and steel cans being placed in the aluminium receptacle, to track these people. Use RIPA to gather damning evidence. Prosecute the offenders, fine them £10,000 per person they have living in such conditions (charge their properties where they or a relative owns them if they don't have the cash), put them on a watch list for the future, and deal with the hidden 'relatives' by either deporting or giving a home to. There's no need for prison, it won't 'deter' them, it'll just put them somewhere they can be corrupted worse for 6 months. Hit them financially and, if necessary, make them do extremely long community service.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • so over half were illegal immigrants. I hope they were all deported within 7 days.
    the need for such housing would go away if all illegal imigrants were deported. Easy to see from these figures why the estimate is a million illegals in london alone.
    Its immigration greatly exceeding emigration which is the cause. How about one in for every 5 out for the next twenty years.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Melvin Bone

    'Alpha One | 03/09/2012 10:06 am The real question here is why are Councils spending thousands, if not millions, on surveilance of people putting their bins out'

    Because Council do not have a sole priority.

    They have a wide remit and a fixed budget with responsibilities given by central government and are fined if they do not comply. One remit being to recycle a % of refuse or get fined. So they are correct to sort out the rubbish situation otherwise you'd moan about how daft they were to get fined and not sort out the rubbish...

    Do you see?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Alpha One

    This is true Melvin, but how they achieve that recycling rate is open to interpretation. Treating the electorate with suspicion and employing tactics which Stalin would have been proud of is arguably not the most effective way of bringing up recycling rates.

    Contrast, in this country we have many councils who operate a policy of not collecting bins which are open, of going through recycling to check it's not "contaminated" by waste and fining people who 'flout' these rules. In Florida, they swapped the mountains of bins for one, they collect is twice a week and sort it at a council depot. Not only did recycling go from around 14% to 71% (why not 100% I'm not sure) litterally over night. Meanwhile we enjoy an average recycling rate of around 25%, depsite the myriad of different colour bins and exciting fines.

    Is what councils are are doing the best use of resources. If they all adopted the Florida system, not only would it create jobs, but it would increase the recycling rate markedly (given our penchant for recycling, and the ability to recycle about 99% of everything we produce in one way or another, we'd probably have a near 100% recycling rate). That would then free up the funds currently expended on RIPA exercises to be used to target people who are making vulnerable people live in squallor.

    It's all about use (or rather misuse) of funds. With Plan A we were meant to cut public spending, we've reached 6% and Council are still recruiting. The cuts simply did not target the right places.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Melvin Bone

    We could talk rubbish all day Alpha One...I agree it's madness at the moment due to the myriad of different systems in place.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 per page | 20 per page | 50 per page |

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

sign in register

Related

Articles

  • Hidden homes

    28/02/2014

    The illegal use of commercial property as housing has long been a feature of certain London areas, especially where rents are prohibitively high. Coco Khan reports

  • Firefighters warn of beds in sheds danger following 13 deaths

    16 June 2014

    Firefighters have warned of the ‘tragedy’ of vulnerable people living in sheds and outhouses, who are at far greater risks of dying in a fire.

  • Spotlight on PRS licensing scheme

    24 April 2014

    Councils across the UK are considering licensing schemes to tackle rogue private landlords. Pete Apps visits Newham in east London to find out if its 15 month-old scheme is making a difference to tenants’ lives

  • Pickles guides councils on powers against Travellers

    9 August 2013

    Communities secretary Eric Pickles today offered councils guidance on how they can clamp down quickly on illegal encampments and unauthorised traveller sites.

  • Destitute – as bad in every language

    26/07/2013

    It might be a tricky topic to approach, but migrant homelessness is an issue we need to stop ignoring

Resources

  • Staying power

    04/10/2013

    By providing a range of services from discounted furniture to advice on everything from welfare to energy, one social enterprise is enabling tenants to avoid debt and stay in their home for longer. Louise Hunt reports.

  • Home help

    06/09/2013

    Welfare reform has piled financial pressure on tenants and their landlords alike. Alex Turner meets a former housing professional who quit her job to start a business she hopes will reduce rent arrears and improve residents’ lives

  • The dangers of damp

    30/08/2013

    Landlords should take damp and mould seriously to avoid conviction, says Timothy Waitt

  • A bright idea

    22/11/2013

    Why has a Sunderland-based social landlord set up a charity providing solar powered lamps to communities in Africa? Martin Hilditch finds out

  • Mind over matter

    09/05/2014

    A Merseyside landlord is training its staff to become mental health first aiders to help them support both colleagues and tenants, as Helen Clifton reports

IH Subscription