March 16 2014 Latest news:
Harry Kemble, Reporter
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
More than 100 people have been discovered living in illegal dwellings in just over ten months across the borough, it has emerged.
A freedom of information request by the Recorder shows since April 1 118 people have been discovered living in either purpose built or converted outbuildings not considered suitable accommodation by the council.
The figure shows the issue of “beds in sheds” is refusing to go away after the Recorder revealed some people were paying “£700 per month” to rogue landlords to live in outbuildings last spring.
Redbridge Council currently employs dedicated housing and planning enforcement officers to investigate the “ongoing problem” in the borough.
Since last April, the council has successfully prosecuted seven private landlords for housing offences.
The landlords were fined a total of £79,100 and ordered to pay £6,853 costs.
The government gave Redbridge Council £271,368 extra funding from central government to tackle the issue of beds in sheds – one of only four boroughs to receive the extra help.
A Redbridge Council spokesman said: “We will continue to explore opportunities for further funding to continue this important programme of works.”
The spokesman added the borough had many good professional private landlords who took their responsibilities seriously.
Although some of buildings are “completely unsuitable for residential use”, according to the council, no deaths have been reported as a direct result of living in outbuildings since April.
In December, Mohammed Saleem of High Road, Ilford, was found guilty at Havering Magistrates’ Court of eight housing management offences under the Housing Act 2004.
Mr Saleem was fined £24,000 for renting out illegal beds in a shed structure.
John Clifton, 27, a church leader, who runs the Salvation Army in Clements Road, provides bedding and food for those sleeping rough on the streets of Redbridge.
He was “shocked” by the figure which he felt “was very high”, but he did add the council was putting the resources it received from the government to full use.
He added: “There is a really low stock of [local authority] housing in Redbridge – it is a big challenge for the council.”
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