Just when you thought you'd heard all the horror stories that the housing crisis had to offer, Barking & Dagenham Council raises the stakes. In raids yesterday morning with police, council officers found 55 people living in three houses, including 11 children.
Two of the homes had three bedrooms, but residents were crammed into every space possible, including a loft and a shed at the third property.
Royel Estates and Builders "managed" one of the properties, but claimed to be "absolutely shocked" by the number of occupants. "We had no idea," the manager told the Evening Standard. "How would they all have fit? I’ve never heard of that many people being in a property. We will be looking into it. As far as we were aware it was two couples with their children living there. If it’s true and there had been a breach of their lease they will be out."
Their comments might carry more weight if the property in question hadn't been "illegally converted" and if the firm was a member of one of the mandatory letting agent redress schemes.
It's sickening to think that such obscene overcrowding could be happening in London under our noses. Anyone coming to work in the UK should expect a minimum standard of accommodation for them and their children.
It is good to see Barking & Dagenham Council actively enforcing the law and we hope this will be the start of bringing homes in the borough up to standard. Unfortunately we don’t know how widespread this exploitation is because so many councils don’t license their landlords.
In the meantime, housing reports might want to take a leaf out of Final Score's book and start including the numbers involved spelled out in brackets, just to assure readers that it isn't a typo.
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