Task force launched in Newham Council crack down on ‘slum’ landlords

A new task force has been set up to tackle the growing menace of so-called “super sheds” which are being used to house people in squalid conditions in Newham.

Newham Council officers are currently investigating about 100 reported cases of ramshackle buildings in people’s gardens which they suspect may be illegal. The council has warned that some unscrupulous landlords are exploiting this “slum” accommodation and have established a new task force to banish them from the borough.

They plan to use aerial photography and infra-red imagery to track down these shanty-style dwellings and to account the landlords who seek to profit from society’s most vulnerable.

Councillor Unmesh Desai, executive member for crime and anti-social behaviour, said: “These buildings are not just illegal and an eyesore. They are dangerous and often used by landlords to sub-let.

“The creation of this task force gives a very clear message about our zero tolerance approach to illegal building, which is a crime. They are unsafe – endangering the inhabitants - and unsightly. They spoil the look and feel of the area.

“We will not tolerate anti-social behaviour and crime in Newham. If people flout the law - littering, noise nuisance, breaching planning laws or committing a serious criminal offence - we will take action.”

Councillors approved two new task forces at a meeting in July - one to pro-actively confront the problem and a second to deal with a backlog of cases. The proposal is subject to a funding approval in September.

Most Read

“Crime and anti-social behaviour are unacceptable and we will never apologise for being tough on the yobs and vandals who make the lives of the hard working majority a misery,” added Cllr Desai.

“This combined approach, involving planning, housing and enforcement, builds on the successful work we have already done in tackling this issue.”

The announcement was welcomed by housing charity Shelter.

Roger Harding, Shelter’s head of policy and public affairs, said: “We are pleased to hear that Newham Council are taking firm action against the rogue landlords operating in their borough.

“With a chronic shortage of social housing and more and more people being priced out the housing market, renting is fast becoming the only option for thousands of people in London.

“Some rogue landlords are exploiting the lack of affordable accommodation, and the most vulnerable tenants have been left with little choice of who to rent from, finding themselves forced to live unsafe or illegal housing, such as these ‘super sheds’ in Newham.

“We would urge other councils to follow Newham’s lead in confronting rogue landlords, and would like to see the housing minister provide much more support to ensure we’re using every weapon possible to crack down on unlawful operators.”

Buildings which do not meet planning requirements will be issued with an enforcement notice under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Fines can also be issued up to a maximum of �20,000.