THE PRACTICE of renting out garden sheds as dwellings is widespread in certain parts of town, The Luton News has discovered.
This follows our exclusive front page report last week exposing Luton company Bis Mil Lah, which paid a £25,000 penalty for letting brick-built outhouses with no planning permission.
Our own investigations revealed several back garden ‘sheds’ in the Dallow and Runley Road area. Many have tiled roofs, double glazing and doors. Some, which do not appear to be in such good repair, have curtains at the windows.
One caller who rents a room in Dallow Road said sheds in the back garden of the property were being let out with no bathroom facilities.
“I have seen one woman empty a chamber pot in the kitchen sink,” she said.
Another caller gave us the numbers of nine houses in Dallow Road and 13 in Runley Road which he alleges have illegal dwellings in their back gardens.
A breezeblock shed with peeling facias towers over a middle-aged woman’s garden in Leagrave. Partially cladded wiring connects it to the main house.
The woman said when she moved in three years ago, she complained to the council that the building’s walls abutted her property.
“They advised me to get a lawyer to deal with the problem,” she said.
“There are lots of cars at the front and sometimes my own driveway is blocked. The shed is let and the garden is a mess.”
A council spokeswoman said the law allows some extensions and alterations to dwellings to be erected without planning permission.
But in planning terms, sheds were considered outbuildings. The rules for their use as summerhouses, garages and playrooms were fairly relaxed.
But they would not usually cover residential use for self-contained accommodation.
She said: “In such instances, planning permission would normally be required. Should the owner at a later stage change the use for such structures, we are not in a position to act unless this change has been brought to our attention.”
Published by Luton Today on Thursday 20 October 2011