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Rogue landlords to be targeted by new inspection team

Rogue landlords who exploit migrants in sub-standard accommodation in Wisbech are set to be targeted by a new team of enforcers - thanks to government funding.

Helping hand

The officers will inspect thousands of privately-rented homes in the town to crackdown on overcrowding and dangerous conditions to help both the tenants themselves and neighbouring families.

The government's Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has given Fenland District Council £192,370 from its Controlling Migration Fund to launch the enforcement plan.

Two new private-sector housing officers will work alongside Operation Pheasant, the multi-agency task force set up in 2012 to tackle migrant exploitation across Fenland.

In its bid to the DCLG, the council said although Operation Pheasant is successful in tackling housing condition issues, rogue landlords, gangmasters and organised crime groups, additional resource was needed to get to grips with the issues in Wisbech.

It also said high levels of deprivation, coupled with significant inward migration and cheap poor quality housing, has meant the town has become a hub for exploitation. Rogue landlords take advantage of the fact people who are relatively new to the country don't know they can complain about it, or are afraid to.

The new two-year project will see house-to-house inspections carried out on around 10,500 private rented properties to identify failings and take enforcement action where necessary. Data will also be gathered to enable effective monitoring, and intelligence shared with the Operation Pheasant task force.

Information packs will also be provided to tenants with advice on how to access local services and fire safety and information on workers' rights, human trafficking and exploitation.

Councillor Will Sutton, Fenland District Council's Portfolio Holder responsible for private-sector housing, said: "Poor quality private-rented accommodation has become a breeding ground for migrants to exist in sometimes dire and dangerous conditions, frequently overcrowded without basic safety standards in place.

"In Fenland we are working hard to tackle criminal landlords and through this extra funding, we expect to see a reduction in the number of these landlords letting out such accommodation and exploiting tenants.

"I would like to pay tribute to council officers, as once again they have put together a successful, strong evidence-based bid to DCLG."

Article added: August 14, 2017