Council uses Article 4 direction to evict asylum seekers in HMO

The London Borough of Bexley has ended the unlawful use of a house by a Home Office approved accommodation provider dealing with asylum seekers.

Enforcement officers were called to Penhill Road, Blackfen by local residents, who mounted a demonstration after becoming concerned that the two-storey house was being used as Home Office accommodation when it was unsuitable for this purpose.

A Bexley Council statement said neither the residents nor the council had been given prior notice and the council had not approved this use of the property.
Officers found three people living there, and evidence that a much higher occupation was planned.

The council notified the accommodation provider that the property was unsuitable for the proposed multiple occupancy but despite this he placed additional people there.

They left following further intervention by the council, which warned the provider that use of the property as a house in multiple occupation would be unlawful.
Council leader Teresa O'Neill said; "Our enforcement officers acted quickly and were able to stop this property from being used in such an unlawful manner.

“We thank Penhill Road residents for highlighting this issue to us. However, we must take care when something like this arises not to inflame the situation with rumour and hearsay. Bexley has a proud tradition of community cohesion and partnership."

She said Bexley proposed to use an Article 4 direction to strengthen its control over HMOs.

A Home Office spokesman said: “The UK has a long history of granting asylum to those who need our protection and we are committed to providing safe and secure accommodation while applications are considered.

“We will not provide a running commentary on the nature of asylum claims, current numbers in or locations of initial asylum accommodation. This is for the protection and privacy of these vulnerable people.

“We work closely with local authorities around asylum dispersal, which includes closely monitoring existing arrangements and the impact on local services and community cohesion.”

The Home Office said that since 2000, asylum accommodation has been contracted through the private, public and third sectors, with providers “monitored extremely closely to they meet required standards” and in contracts with measures to ensure any issues can be quickly addressed.

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