A report by London Assembly member Susan Hall found almost 6,000 ‘beds in sheds’ have been identified in just 20 boroughs over the past five years – an average of around 9,000 across the capital.
The report, Secret Sleepers, shows tenants are left living in sub-standard conditions whilst landlords escape paying millions of pounds in council tax. The report suggests a new policy in the mayor’s draft London Plan – ‘infill development within the curtilage of a house’ – is set to make things worse.
The unregistered small properties can be used to conceal illegal immigration, human trafficking and benefit fraud. The lack of formal address makes it difficult for police and support services to intervene.
Hall said: “The problem of beds in sheds is not solely about recouping money for the council, it is a human issue with human cost.
“However, the fact £9m is being lost every year shows the scale of the problem cash-strapped local authorities face.
“Immoral rogue landlords are profiting from tenants living in cramped and grotty conditions all over London. This is not a practice we should be allowing in our city.
“Many authorities are failing to take action but there are clear social and financial incentives to do so. I am urging the Mayor and our boroughs to tackle this illegal practice and raise the standards of living for some of the poorest people in London.”