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Concern at exploitation of migrant workers

21 August, 2006

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson, Fra McCann MLA has voiced concern about the exploitation of migrant workers after it was revealed that of 86 Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) inspected by the Housing Executive in Belfast between Jan and August 2003) that 73 required Article 80 notices requiring the landlord to upgrade the dwelling to the correct standard, and demanded more resources to ensure the immediate registration of all HMOs.

Mr McCann said:

"For many years there have been concerns about the exploitation of migrant works here in the north, particularly in relation to housing. These figures confirm that many landlords, operating properties where migrants are living, are offering sub-standard accommodation.

"The best way to tackle the problem is through mandatory registration, strong regulation of standards and enforceable penalties for landlords who provide sub-standard accommodation or exploit their tenants.

"However, Sinn Féin have huge concerns that since the introduction of registration of private landlords including those running HMOs that it is not being properly resourced, meaning that it could be years before there is a full list is available and that many will continue to be unregistered.

"The fact that the Housing Executive issued 73 Article 80 notices in 2003, prior to the introduction of registration, to force landlords to upgrade their properties also suggests that the majority of unregistered HMOs are failing to meet the regulatory standards.

"These figures show that almost 85% of HMOs inspected in Belfast in 2003 where migrant workers were living required work to bring them up to standard highlights the size of the problem." ENDS

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