The spectre of more beds in sheds, operated by illegal landlords, has been raised by the Residential Landlords Association after David Cameron said new immigrants will have a two-year wait before going on council house waiting lists.
Alan Ward, RLA chairman, said: “These measures will put extra pressure on the private rented sector and provide opportunities for low-grade landlords and criminal elements to exploit immigrants.
“The RLA has been calling for councils to enforce the many regulations that already exist against criminal landlords, and the Government’s announcement will increase the need to prevent overcrowding and insanitary renting.
“Local authorities can already discharge their responsibilities for homelessness in the private rented sector, but where they chose to do so, they must ensure the properties are safe, legal and secure.”
One local council, Hammersmith & Fulham, yesterday announced that from next week, it will only allow people on to its housing list who have lived in the area for five years.
The council has a waiting list of 10,300, but last year only managed to offer housing to 470.
Cllr Andrew Johnson, cabinet member for housing, said: “While we welcome migrants with open arms, this country should not be a soft touch for people who think they can simply rock up at our housing offices and demand a heavily subsidised house.”