Unscrupulous landlords are forcing immigrants working in Spalding to live in mouldy filth – and avoiding returning deposits after tenants improved the property.
The shocking revelation comes following investigations into the exploitation of Polish and Lithuanian residents across Lincolnshire.
Police have revealed victims are being forced to live in torrid conditions – illustrated by images on this page supplied by the Polish Help Centre in Abbey Path.
Diana Gajek, who runs the help centre, said there have been several occasions where tenants have asked them for help to get their deposits back.
The image shows the state of the property when tenants working in Spalding paid a deposit of £650 before they redecorated and tidied the garden.
Diana said when they left they were sent a bill for £446 for damaged doors and kitchen unit, £180 to replace the blinds and £150 for cleaning.
This amounted to more than the deposit of £650 the estate agents held and the tenants were sent a bill.
She said: “The tenants were not allowed to see the property before they moved in and when they saw it there was mould in many of the rooms and the garden was overgrown.
“We have pictures of the improvements they made to make it liveable. When they left, the blinds were still in the garage and as for the cleaning bill of £150, we could have done it for less.
“This is the kind of exploitation that takes place when people do not know the language and cannot speak up for themselves.”
On another occasion, Diana said she acted as translater for someone looking at a property in Little London.
She said: “When we arrived it was smelly and as if someone had died 20 years ago and no-one had touched it since.
“It was disgusting. I can’t understand why people didn’t remove stuff – there were dirty duvets and clothes all over the place, with old food in the cooker. But this is the condition people are facing when they cannot afford a deposit. I know there are two sides to every story, but this should not be happening.”
A special action group has been formed by Lincolnshire Police’s Safeguarding Adults Board to investigate the scale and scope of the exploitation of vulnerable immigrants for financial gain.
In other areas, the work has uncovered isolated cases of slavery in brothels and drug factories.
Last month three men were arrested in Kirton on suspicion of involvement in human trafficking, linked to sexual exploitation.
Detective Superintendent Dave Wood said: “There are some really good people coming into the county who work hard and contribute to the community. But wherever there are vulnerable adults there will be a small element of criminal activity coming in on the back of it.
“We are working with other regions in our intellegence gathering. Anyone who can help can call us on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.”