Slough gets £200,000 to tackle shed homes

Shed in Slough
Image caption Slough Council estimates up to 3,000 households have converted their sheds to house migrant workers

A Berkshire council has been given more than £200,000 to tackle rogue landlords who house people in converted substandard outbuildings.

Slough council estimates that 2-3,000 households have converted their sheds to house migrant workers.

The council's funding to tackle the problem of "beds in sheds" was cut by half to £175,000 when the coalition government came into power in 2010.

The new grant will make up for the cut and fund extra enforcement officers.

Houses of multiple occupancy and converted sheds are of concern to the council as they provide substandard accommodation, are considered to blight the town and in some cases are classified unfit to live in.

Homes demolished

James Swindlehurst, deputy leader for the council, said: "The buildings often have planning permission as something else, a store or a garage, and then kitchens and things have arrived later.

"The first thing we try and do is obviously to return them to their permitted use.

"In some cases we can regularise them as a dwelling and levy council tax on them and make sure they are energy and fire compliant.

"We let them exist but we make sure they are paying their share towards the cost of existing.

"In the worst cases we have to take the whole building down, demolish it and remove the people living in it."

He said the "beds in sheds" problem was growing and dealing with it was perhaps "more complicated then it first appears".

"Often it's about responding to complaints that people raise with us.

"We have to coordinate between planning, building regulation, council tax and other agencies in terms of making sure the buildings are fire compliant."

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