Rogue Indian-origin landlords come under UK’s £4mn crackdown

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Jan 06, 2014 23:56 IST

Britain has launched another crackdown on rogue Indian-origin landlords in parts of London and elsewhere who rent out slum-like accommodation in sheds in their gardens to mostly illegal immigrants from the Indian sub-continent.

Called ‘beds in sheds’, raids by officials on such accommodation have led to the arrest of many illegal Indian immigrants living in them in London areas such as Hounslow, Southall, Croydon and Wembley. Similar illegal renting is also reported from other cities.

Housing minister Kris Hopkins has announced funding of £4 million to 23 councils across Britain to help conduct raids on such unhygeinic and dangerous accommodation owned by landlords of Indian and other origin who are officially called ‘unscrupulous Scrooges’.

Prime Minister David Cameron joined an early morning raid on one such accommodation in Southall before Christmas and was visibly shocked to see the squalid conditions. Some illegal Indian immigrants living there were arrested before his visit.

Since 2011 more than 500 of these illegally-rented outhouses have been discovered and action taken against the owners who exploit illegal immigrants and allow overcrowding for financial benefit. The raids are conducted by councils alongwith immigration officials.

In several cases, ‘tenants’ in such accommodation are Indian citizens who are in the country illegally, and turn to landlords of Indian origin with settled status to provide them shelter. In the process, they face exploitation but are unable to approach authorities due to their illegal immigration status.

Official note on the situation says: “‘Beds in sheds’ are often rented to migrants, including some with no right to be in the UK, at extortionate rates. Their foreign ‘tenants’ often find it difficult to return home quickly after destroying their passports to avoid removal”.

It adds: “With few other options, they will put up with cramped conditions, dodgy wiring and poor sanitation as an alternative to life on the streets”.

Hopkins said: “Private rental market is still afflicted by too many ‘unscrupulous Scrooges’: miserly landlords who rent dangerous, dirty and overcrowded properties without a thought for the welfare of their tenants”. Councils to receive extra funding include those with a sizeable population with origins in the Indian sub-continent, such as Croydon, Newham, Hounslow, Lambeth, Rochdale, Oxford, Derby, Sheffield, Nottingham and Leeds.

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