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Haringey Borough Council to clamp down on makeshift homes in warehouses
A special taskforce will be set up to tackle landlords who force people who live in “overcrowded and potentially dangerous” warehouses.
Haringey Borough Council says the borough has seen a recent surge in people renting out industrial units as communal living spaces for young adults.
However, these buildings are often not fit for people to live in – with no means of escape in an emergency, poor sanitation, and a lack of basic facilities.
The council claims there are a total of 727 bedrooms in 322 units across 26 sites in Haringey.
Units are often overcrowded, with up to 20 people living in each one.
The authority said this overcrowding causes problems of noise and litter for people living in nearby houses.
At a meeting of the council’s cabinet on Thursday night the council voted to create a taskforce to tackle the problem.
Planning, housing and enforcement officers will work together with the police and fire brigade to clamp down on the illegal use of industrial units.
The taskforce will also ensure living areas are safe and appropriate.
Councillor Joseph Ejofor, cabinet member for planning and enforcement, said: “It’s unacceptable for landlords to be offering industrial units as places to live.
“The buildings are often cramped, cold, insanitary and dangerous and we are clear that the landlords who are using them in this way are in serious breach of planning regulations and are placing their tenants at risk.
“We know that housing is at a premium in the borough and we recognise the contribution that these residents – many of whom work in the creative industries – make to our borough, but the council would be failing in its duty if it was to turn a blind eye to the very real dangers that these tenants are facing.”
There are 26 sites in Haringey with identified buildings designed for industrial and employment use being put to residential use without planning permission or sufficient adaptations.
Under the scheme, landlords will be asked to clear premises where they are found to be unsuitable for residential use.
Existing residents will be given up to six months to find alternative accommodation and will be offered advice from the council’s taskforce.
But not everyone on the council is in favour of the plans.
Members of the Liberal Democrat opposition have claimed the clampdown on warehouses could mean up to 6,000 people are evicted from their homes.
Councillor Richard Wilson said: “How could Labour-run Haringey Council have failed to notice thousands of residents moving into industrial buildings - including units it owns itself?
“This complete shambles could have been avoided if earlier action had been taken.
“The council must do everything they can to ensure that people are not evicted unnecessarily and the creative community on the site is given all the assistance they need to stay in Tottenham.”
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