September 21 2014 Latest news:
Harry Kemble, Reporter
Thursday, February 6, 2014
The issue of people living illegally in outbuildings or sheds has been an endemic one for many London borough councils in recent years – but not in Havering, it has emerged.
A freedom of information request shows in 2013 the council received just 22 complaints regarding so-called “Beds in Sheds” – only nine were later confirmed as unauthorised.
Cllr Lesley Kelly, cabinet member for housing, feels Havering’s distance from central London dissuades people from living illegally in the borough.
She said: “We do not have the issue with immigration that maybe inner London has. “If people are going to live here [illegally] and travel into London to work they are going to be priced out.”
The illegal structures, some dangerous and cramped, are offered by landlords - often to Britain’s illegal migrants.
Redbridge Council reported early last month it had discovered 118 people living in illegal outbuildings since April 2013.
Since last April, Redbridge 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.
Cllr Kelly sympathised with Havering’s neighbouring borough, and said the “high number” of cases was “wrong”.
She added: “My immediate reaction was we are very impressive in Havering – “Beds in Sheds” is just a minor problem.
“We do not get any central government budget to deal with “beds in sheds”.
“We have a section [at Havering Council] for people to check with complaints - I had one at the end of last year where a family had built quite a big shed and people were coming and going.
“People were suspicious but it just turned out they had a big family with loads of aunts and uncles.”
In 2013, four London boroughs - Redbridge, Newham, Hillingdon and Ealing - were given £800,000 to tackle the issue. Havering has not received any additional funding, according to Cllr Kelly.