|Council Steps Up Campaign Against Rogue Landlords|
Given funding from government to continue its work
Hounslow Council say there will be no respite for rogue landlords who rent out unsafe, illegal and overcrowded properties. The council was awarded £260,000 to continue its project by the Department of Communities and Local Government.
The council’s rogue landlord team have been awarded the money – the third largest sum in the country - to build on the success of the project’s first year, which has carried out 4,271 visits to suspected illegal dwellings
Cllr Steve Curran, cabinet member for housing, planning and regeneration, said: “We’ve had a lot of success in the first year, and this extra funding means we can keep going and widen our work to other areas like additional licensing for landlords.
“We are determined to tackle the blight caused by criminal landlords making a profit on the back of vulnerable people.
“The people who live in these conditions are trapped into thinking they have no choice, and can be paying hundreds of pounds to put up with cramped conditions, unsafe wiring and inadequate sanitation.
“The buildings are often illegal developments, with the unscrupulous landlords exploiting those living there who either don’t know how, or aren’t prepared, to do anything about it.”
The team was set up to tackle the growing problem of rogue landlords renting out illegal outbuildings in back gardens.
In the first year, the team was created by bringing together specialist officers from across the council, and was boosted by the recruitment of four new officers.
The team initially focussed on gathering intelligence about the scope of the problem, and used aerial imagery to identify areas with high proportions of large outbuildings. This was cross referenced with information such as locations of houses of multiple occupancy (HMO’s), complaints from members of the public and anti social behaviour. These were then targeted in street surveys, which saw 3,165 properties visited in six months to check they were not being used for illegal accommodation.
The team are currently investigating 784 properties, and 270 of these have been confirmed as having outbuildings or converted garages in residential use. Twenty three illegal dwellings have been taken out of use and 159 enforcement actions have been taken including:
In addition to enforcement action, 284 power of entry notices have been issued where access to carry out an inspection has not been given. There have also been 197 referrals made to project partners such as council tax, building control and the HMO licensing team.
To find out more about the council’s work, or to report a suspected illegal outbuilding, visit www.hounslow.gov.uk/illegaloutbuildings
January 28, 2014