Cllr Michael Maurice: 'Why is Brent notifying homeowners about raids?’

Cllr Michael Maurice says TfL was in trouble before Covid.

Cllr Michael Maurice says TfL was in trouble before Covid. - Credit: Archant

What a year it has been, I think I can safely say that it is a year that everyone would like to forget.

Every person, every family, most businesses, every local government and government itself has been affected.

It has been very difficult for the government. Everything seems to change on a daily basis, which makes it difficult to plan ahead.

To its credit, the government has brought out some of the most generous schemes and rescue packages the world has known.

Some, unfortunately, have dropped through the cracks, but you should realise that it’s just not possible to cater for every situation and this was all introduced at a moment’s notice.

I’ll admit that mistakes have been made, but the government was venturing into the unknown.

I would like to say a big thank you to all the NHS staff, selfless key workers, all the staff at Brent Council, and the fire brigade, ambulance and paramedic staff and police who all have to go into situations which might endanger themselves and their colleagues.

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Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about Brent Council’s HMO (houses of multiple occupation) licensing and enforcement team who when serious complaints about a property are made, consider themselves so sacrosanct that instead of raiding a property to inspect it, write to the owners giving them notice that they will be coming to inspect the property.

We are not talking 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.

So why should Brent’s enforcement team feel they have to give notice?

In the meantime, the residents who live in the area have to put up with this disgusting behaviour. I will keep fighting for the residents in my ward to try to bring an end to this unsociable and unacceptable behaviour.

Let us put 2020 behind us, let us hope that next year will bring a cure to this horrible virus and that with Brexit behind us, we can go forth with strength and fortitude and make 2021 the start of a happy, healthy and safe new year.

Cllr Eleanor Southwood, Brent’s cabinet member for housing and welfare reform, 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 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.”