Brent councillor calls for reinstatement of surprise property raids
- Credit: Archant
A Brent enforcement team has been criticised for ditching unannounced property raids during the Covid pandemic.
Writing for the BKTimes, Cllr Michael Maurice (Con, Kenton) said it is "unsociable and unacceptable" that Brent Council's houses of multiple occupation (HMO) licensing and enforcement department notifies homeowners before inspections.
Surprise raids were scrapped amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to "protect the safety" of officers, explained Cllr Eleanor Southwood, Brent’s cabinet member for housing and welfare reform.
However, the notification allows people who are committing crimes in properties to hide evidence, Cllr Maurice said.
He said Brent Council considers its policy "sacrosanct": "We are not taking about minor breaches, we are talking about antisocial behaviour, drug dealing, dealing in stolen property and possible prostitution.
"Yes, you read that correctly. This would give the alleged villains time to put their house in order, or go away for a few days only to return once the inspection was done. Would you expect the police to announce to the criminals that they were going to be raided and arrested and give them a few days notice? Of course not.
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"So why should Brent’s enforcement team feel they have to give notice?"
He said the team have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to remain safe amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
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"In the meantime, the residents who live in the area have to put up with this disgusting behaviour," he added.
Cllr Southwood said: “We routinely carry out unannounced inspections and raids on properties if we suspect an offence has been committed, and have one of the best success rates in the country for securing prosecutions against landlords who break the law.
"The Covid-19 pandemic means that raids cannot currently go ahead and, at present, inspections are being carried out with tenants’ consent to protect the safety of our officers.
"We remain fully committed to driving up standards for private renters and our licensing and enforcement team has been working closely with Brent’s community safety team and the police throughout the pandemic.
"Anyone who suspects criminal activity should immediately report their suspicions to the police."
The non-emergency police line is on 101.