Slum landlords who have been exploiting migrants in shocking housing conditions are to be targeted by a new Bristol Council inspection team says the Bristol Post. The scheme to crack down on these landlords is being funded by central government.
The team aims to inspect thousands of privately-rented homes across the Bristol city. This comes after a whole host of “shocking conditions” have been exposed over the past few months by the Bristol Post.
Funding provided by The Home Office will be used by the Council – more than £320,000 – from a ‘Controlling Migration Fund’ to be used solely to tackle the “decrepit state” of many privately-rented homes and rooms in certain parts of the city.
Poor standards housing is a recognised issue across Bristol, but it is thought to be markedly worse in places with concentrated populations of migrants and refugees. Unscrupulous ‘rouge landlords’ are said to rely on the fact people who are relatively new to the country either don’t know they can complain about it, or are afraid to.
The council says that migrants are ‘over-represented in the private rented sector’ in Bristol. This is because they are at the bottom of the queue for council housing, often ending up in properties in poor condition.
Over the past year, the Bristol Post has exposed a housing crisis in the city. It has revealed stories such as that of the Somali woman whose neighbours of 12 years in Easton lined up to prevent a ‘revenge eviction’, instigated by here complaining about damp.
There was another shocking example with the death of Jorge Rias, a Colombian who died in a single room in a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) in St Paul’s that was so smelly, his body wasn’t discovered for weeks.
Recently the Post exposed how one landlord told another family from overseas, whose children have been born and grown up in Bristol, that they would be evicted after they complained of water pouring down walls when it rains.
Those kinds of anecdotal evidence are said to be multiplied countless times across the city. A situation that has prompted central government to fund Bristol to the tune of £321,750 for a two-year project to identify and target these rogue landlords, and where necessary to take enforcement action.
Bristol’s housing chief, Cllr Paul Smith has said:
“Across the city people are finding it increasingly difficult to access decent, affordable homes.
“In Bristol we are working hard to tackle criminal landlords and through this extra funding, we expect to see a reduction in the number of these criminal landlords letting out poor quality accommodation and exploiting tenants.
“Making sure that everyone in Bristol has a safe, comfortable place to call home, is one of our key priorities, and we are doing all we can to make this a reality. We intend to use all enforcement powers at our disposal where appropriate,” Cllr Smith added.
Controversy has surrounded the government’s ‘Controlling Migration Fund’ as it often leads to enforcement action being taken against people who are found to be in the country illegally.
The fund is actually split into two parts: one half is to tackle the illegal immigrants, and the second to help authorities assist those people who are here quite legally and this is where the money to target slum landlords is to come from.
The councils says that this money will pay for around 1,200 inspections of properties in Bristol.