Around Ealing February/March 2019 - Page 25

BEDS IN SHEDS Huge fines for ‘Dickensian’ renting A crackdown by Ealing Council has led to a series of prosecutions of rogue landlords – two of whom were slapped with enormous fines in court, reports Quinton Drawbridge. T he landlords repeatedly ignored council orders to stop renting so-called ‘beds in sheds’ outbuildings to people at their properties. One of the landlords was fined a total of more than £465,000 for flagrantly disregarding the council’s request to pull down the unsafe outhouses, which were being illegally rented out to up to five tenants. Another landlord was fined almost £42,000 for letting outhouses built illegally at their rental property. The first fine also reflected the fact that the landlord could not prove that their income over the previous six years was legal, with their case being considered under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. If they do not pay the fine (by a date set by the court) they could go to prison for four years. A specialist team of council planning enforcement officers regularly patrol the borough to spot cases like this, and consequently other cases are also in the pipeline. ‘TRAGEDY TENANTS ARE BEING EXPLOITED’ Councillor Joanna Camadoo, the council’s cabinet member for community safety and inclusion, said: “Using these sorts of buildings as accommodation is illegal for a very good reason – they are substandard, unsafe and do not meet the stringent planning regulations that exist to protect our residents and communities. It’s a tragedy tenants are being exploited in this way, forced to live in Dickensian conditions by unscrupulous landlords. “These cases are a warning to other property owners who think they can ignore the law – anyone who builds properties in our borough without planning permission can expect a knock on the door from our enforcement officers. As well as having hefty fines to pay, both of these landlords now have criminal records. “You can avoid that by making sure you have planning permission for any major changes to your property. Paying council tax is not the same as having planning permission. Failure to comply with planning notices is a criminal offence; so, if we issue you with one, act on it.” REPORT IT If you are concerned about an outhouse in your area or suspect there may be people living in one, please report it by emailing around ealing    February 2019 25