'Beds in sheds' raid exposes tenants paying £55 per week for single mattress in shared room
Published by markthomasjones for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Housing, Legal
beds in sheds
A council raid as part of an investigation into 'beds in sheds' has uncovered a home where three tenants were each paying £55 a week for a nothing more than a mattress in a single shared room.
Officers discovered that the semi-detached house in Waltham Drive, Harrow had been subdivided to accommodate around 11 adults.
Harrow Council's investigators also found that mains appliances were being run from a customised power source next to a light fitting in the ceiling at the property. There were no smoke alarms present and rubbish had been left in sacks at the rear of the house.
The property is now being investigated as a unlicensed house of multiple occupation (HMO) and for possible breaches of fire, electrical and gas safety regulations.
The council is pursuing the landlord, who is understood to live in Bradford, to interview under Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) conditions.
Possible sanctions include a formal caution or prosecution. Any financial details obtained from the investigation will be passed on to the Department of Work and Pensions and other agencies.
Council leader Susan Hall said: “We appear to be seeing the resurrection of East End tenement overcrowding in suburban London with levels of exploitation to match.
“Placing up three people in one room with little more than mattresses for décor and charging £160 a week for it sets a sorry new standard for rip-off Britain.
“This isn’t a victimless crime because the occupants of these 'beds in sheds' lash-ups use council services, like rubbish collection, but the local authority doesn’t give us any grant for them – for the simple reason we don’t know they are there."
Harrow Council is currently investigating around 100 cases of unlicensed HMOs and recently visited an address where a complete stand-alone building in the garden was discovered. Tenants had been paying the landlord £850 a month to live there and claimed housing tax benefit.
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