Spy-in-the-sky zooms in on beds-in-sheds

A spy in the sky plane zooming in on illegal landlords with thermal imaging cameras is to take to the night skies over Slough.

The council is the first in Britain to crack down on tenants living in outbuildings without permission.

The plane will give a ‘heat map’ of the borough with enough detail to spot the warmth from bodies inside buildings.

The council reckons unscrupulous landlords are making money by renting outbuildings to between 700 and 3,000 tenants.

The council will cross reference the map against a database of rental properties with energy performance certificates.

The catch for landlords is the sheds they are letting out cannot qualify for an EPC, and renting a property out without an EPC is an offence with fines accruing at £200 a day.

Ray Haslam, head of environmental services and resilience for Slough Council, said: “Aerial photography is one of a range of tactics we’re using to crack down on this problem and we hope evidence of heat in outbuildings will help us build a true picture of how many sheds are being lived in and where they are.”

A specialist firm will start the survey as soon as weather permits.

Councillor James Swindlehurst, deputy leader and commissioner for neighbourhoods and renewal, said: “The people living in them generate waste, they use council services and they have a cost to the council that isn’t being paid for by taxation. It causes pressure on parking and driveways and we get neighbourhood complaints about densely built gardens.”

“Some of these buildings are perfectly habitable but others are not compliant and we will take action to amend their use or have them removed.”

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