London: Britain has allocated GBP 1.8 million as part of steps to crackdown on landlords - many of them of Indian-origin - who construct illegal extensions to their houses and rent them out to illegal immigrants at extortionate rates in parts of London and elsewhere.
Considered hazardous with slum-like conditions, the extensions - called `beds in sheds` - have often been in the news for the large number of illegal immigrants who live in them in cramped conditions, particularly in areas such as Ealing, Hounslow and Slough.
After forming a taskforce to deal with the situation earlier this month, Housing Minister Grant Shapps has allocated GBP 1.8 million to councils in which such `renting` takes place.
The taskforce include officials of the UK Border Agency.
Reports on the `beds in sheds` have mostly identified the `tenants` as 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, such `tenants` face exploitation and are unable to approach authorities due to their own illegal immigration status.
Shapps promised, "Criminal landlords trapping vulnerable people in `suburban shanty-towns` will get the justice they deserve", and said the fund will help "tackle the problem head-on and end this growing practice by ruthless landlords".
Shapps appealed to councils who may have turned a blind
eye in the past to `beds in sheds`, to use this funding and the range of powers at their disposal, to tackle the issue.
Explaining the situation, a release from Shapps office said: "`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 added: "With few other options, they will put up with cramped conditions, dodgy wiring and poor sanitation as an alternative to life on the streets".
Shapps said that the GBP 1.8 million fund would help the worst affected councils "flush out those who exploit migrants at their most vulnerable".
The councils identified are: Brent, Ealing, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Newham, Peterborough, Redbridge, Slough, and Southwark.
Shapps said: "I`m determined to flush out criminal landlords who think they can make an easy buck from cramped, cockroach-ridden outhouses.
The scandal of `beds in sheds` must come to an end.”
He added: "In the 21st century it simply isn`t acceptable that people should be forced to live in such squalid and unsanitary conditions. That`s why I`ve allocated GBP 1.8 million to help councils in the worst affected areas crack down on this cruel exploitation".
Shapps said that the taskforce, including the police, councils, the UK Border Agency and Revenue and Customs were pooling their resources to bring the so-called landlords of `beds in sheds` to justice.
"I want anyone stuck in these suburban shanty towns to know that help is at hand and they will not be abandoned," he added.