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Beds in sheds landlords are the target of a new government campaign to crack down on shoddy housing.
Housing minister Grant Shapps is spearheading the battle against the spread of ‘suburban shanty towns’ by injecting £1.8 million into a fighting fund for nine councils.
The minister is also urging councils who have ignored the issue to tackle criminal landlords who charge extortionate rents to mainly migrant families for ramshackle accommodation.
In many cases, the landlords destroy passports and blackmail their tenants to extort benefit payments. In return, they live in cramped, cold outbuildings with no sanitation or poorly maintained shared houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).
The money goes to nine councils – mainly in London:
“I’m determined to flush out criminal landlords who think they can make an easy buck from cramped, cockroach-ridden outhouses. The scandal of ‘beds in sheds’ must come to an end,” said Shapps.
“In the 21st century it simply isn’t acceptable that people should be forced to live in such squalid and unsanitary conditions. That’s why I’ve allocated £1.8 million to help councils in the worst affected areas crack down on this cruel exploitation.
“But this is just the start. Our national task force, including the police, councils, the UK Border Agency and HM Revenue and Customs are pooling their resources to bring the so-called landlords of ‘beds in sheds’ to justice. I want anyone stuck in these suburban shanty towns to know that help is at hand and they will not be abandoned.”
In Peterborough, housing needs manager Sean Evans welcomed the extra cash.
“We receive complaints about properties which are being rented to numerous individual households, often including children, which are severely overcrowded,” he said.
“Evidence has also been found of overcrowding 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.”
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