Powerless To Do Anything Too Powerless To Count?


‘Landlords in one of Britain’s poorest areas are exploiting vulnerable families by building tiny ‘sheds with beds’ in back gardens to house them in.

Newham Council in East London has handed out 42 enforcement notices to slum property owners since September 2011, with the growing problem especially bad in the borough.

The wretched backyard and garden sheds, described as ‘little bigger than rabbit hutches’, have been described as dragging London back to the notorious Victorian slum tenements of the 19th century.’

– The Daily Mail (February 2013)

Sheds with beds, it’s happening all over London, first there was the right to buy and then there was the invention of mortgages that would allow the mortgagee to sub-let the property they were buying. Banks and building societies were happy,mortgagees with aspirations to be millionaires were happy, the government was happy. So what went wrong? Well, there was no more money to build, oh there was money to build the type of housing that required a hefty mortgage. But essentially there was no money to be had for the kind of housing, that a society placing social justice first should have. The kind of housing that our government at the time had in fact sold off.


And why was there no money? Well, the government said so, it placed a moratorium on further builds and sat back and raked in the positive electoral results, of selling off the council housing that had already been built. With a reduction in council housing folks were forced to rent from the private sector; great when you’re renting from ethical landlords and property agents. Not so great when you’re renting from the type of landlord that is willing to convert their laundry cupboards, and garages, into spare rooms to rent. And it gets better, rent to one family and you’re looking at five to six hundred pounds a month, rent a house to several families and its millionaire row here we come!


So now we have this happy combination of deteriorating (maximum profit,minimum investment) sub-standard housing. Living cheek to cheek with your neighbours and trying to get your living standards improved? Forget about it, the Landlords likely to hand you an eviction notice on top of everything else. Thinking about contacting your local council and forcing them to do something about your Rachman-style living conditions? Forget about that too, if they’re a Conservative council they’ll only be interested in hunting down the immigrants living in beds-in-sheds. And if they’re a Labour or Liberal council since they’ve rubber stamped the ‘Charter for Budget Responsibility’ you’ll only be getting more of the same!

Happy home hunting!