Housing

Traffickers often house victims of THB for labour exploitation in terrible circumstances: the housing is often overcrowded and victims have to share a room with several other people. Organisations can look for these signs during routine or joint inspections.

Victims may have to sleep on a mattress on the floor, in buildings that are filthy or where there are no basic needs such as a shower and a toilet. In some cases, victims have to sleep in locations that were not intended for living, such as sheds or the cabins of trucks. Victims may have to pay high rents for their accommodation. The conditions under which people are housed may therefore be a sign of THB for labour exploitation.

Multidisciplinary and cross-border cooperation

When it comes to housing conditions, the relevant public and private organisations could:

Look out for signs during housing inspections

In some countries, local governments are responsible for housing inspections. During these inspections, inspectors could come across signs of THB for labour exploitation, such as overcrowding. The housing inspections could take place in a multidisciplinary way, for example in cooperation with the fire brigade, sanitary services, the police or (private) housing companies. Through these housing inspections, local governments or the other organisations involved could come across a lot of information that may be relevant to law enforcement agencies investigating THB.

Look out for overcrowding or poor housing conditions

Overcrowding or poor housing conditions may also be detected by organisations during routine activities such as foot patrols or when providing services. For example, by police on foot patrol, a housing association or a local government carrying out maintenance on rented housing, social welfare officials conducting home visits, or electricity and television mechanics carrying out repairs.

In the United Kingdom, for example, organisations worked together in Operation Pheasant to gather information about exploitation through home inspections.

Look out for victims who have too much of their wages deducted for housing

Depending on national legislation, it may be legal to deduct the cost of housing from the workers’ wages. However, when too much is charged for housing, it could be a sign of THB for labour exploitation.

Check camping sites and vacation parks

When determining which locations to inspect, organisations could keep in mind that victims may end up living on camping sites and in vacation parks, as such locations are often out of sight of the authorities.

Take pictures of the living conditions

When organisations find a victim of THB for labour exploitation in overcrowded or unacceptably poor housing, they could take pictures of the situation. These pictures may be used to illustrate the poor living conditions of the victims in reports that are drawn up afterwards by for example the labour inspectorate or the police.

Specific information for organisations

The following six organisations have specific information about housing: