Sadiq Khan’s Deputy Mayor for Housing has accused a Harrow councillor of “headline grabbing” in her latest report examining London’s ‘beds in sheds’.

James Murray suggested that London Assembly Member Susan Hall, in her ‘Secret Sleepers’ report, was focusing on financial losses incurred due to unpaid council tax as opposed to how renters are negatively affected.

But Ms Hall stressed that, in addition to an estimated £9 million in lost revenue each year, the ‘beds in sheds’ crisis is as much a social issue – one that can have devastating knock-on effects.

She said: “The problem of beds in sheds is not solely about recouping money for the council, it is a human issue with human cost.

“However, the fact £9 million is being lost every year shows the scale of the problem cash-strapped local authorities face.

“Immoral rogue landlords are profiting from tenants living in cramped and grotty conditions all over London. This is not a practice we should be allowing in our city.

“Many authorities are failing to take action but there are clear social and financial incentives to do so.

“I am urging the Mayor and our boroughs to tackle this illegal practice and raise the standards of living for some of the poorest people in London.”

In the report Ms Hall found that there are thousands of potentially illegal dwellings in London, including more than 300 in Harrow.

The unregistered small properties, she noted, can be used to conceal illegal immigration, human trafficking and benefit fraud, while the lack of formal address makes it difficult for police and support services to intervene.

She added that Mr Khan’s new London Plan will only serve to exacerbate the problem since its rules will “favour small housing developments on sites, including ‘infill development within the curtilage of a house’, a type of beds in sheds”.

But Mr Murray dismissed this as nonsense and reiterated the notion that the Mayor is committed to supporting renters.

He said: “After years of inaction from the previous Mayor, [Mr Khan] has made protecting Londoners from unscrupulous landlords a priority, which is precisely why he has pushed his powers to their fullest extent, and worked with boroughs across all parties to launch the first ever ‘name and shame’ Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker to crack down on those causing distress and misery for London’s renters.

“Claims about the London Plan making the problem worse is headline grabbing in the extreme.

“It’s clear to anyone that has read the London Plan that good quality design and stringent space standards are at the very heart of the Mayor’s housing plans.”