14:02 PM, 4th March 2011, About 13 years ago
Renting a shed with a bed to illegal immigrants is the latest money making idea from crooked landlords.
Slough Council has uncovered 2,500 garden sheds, outhouses and lean-to’s converted in to squalid living space in a continuing battle against the problem.
Slough is the UK’s bed-in-a-shed capital as one of the nearest large towns to Heathrow Airport, a favourite destination for asylum seekers and refugees.
Since the start of the year, the council’s housing team has rooted out 90 shacks that were either homes to immigrants or ready to rent.
They reckon at any one time more than 2,000 people are living in these disgraceful conditions.
The tide looks sets to turn in the battle against these rogue landlords ruthlessly exploiting the poor and homeless as government cuts mean the council has lost a third of its funding.
The council was paid a £525,000 grant to investigate the problem – but this has been reduced to £350,000 and councillors fear beds-in-sheds will become more widespread.
Keith Ford, Slough Council’s housing standards manager, said: “We’re really committed to eradicating the town of these illegal dwellings and to make sure people renting them are not exploited to living in bad, and often dangerous, conditions.”
Many of the sheds are illegal because they do not meet building safety standards and do not have planning permission.
They have no sanitation, little heating or hot water and are a fire risk.
Hundreds of the sheds are in the grounds of shared houses – termed houses in multiple occupation or HMOs – that are also in a poor condition due to overcrowding and sharing of kitchens and bathrooms.
The council has served notices on property owners demanding they close kitchens and showers because of issues such as poor electrics.
Slough Council has enlisted help from residents to tackle the problem – suspected sheds with beds can be reported via the council web site and a special hotline to deal with information is available on 01753 875 264.