Undercover investigators will be used in a crackdown on unlicensed cage homes. The Home Affairs Department will train hundreds of temporary staff to locate illegal cage homes in private properties, officials said. 'What we're concerned [with] most is the safety of tenants living in these bedspace apartments. We hope to locate those unlicensed ones so we can take necessary follow-up action,' said Augustine Cheng Luk-shan, the department's deputy director. Mr Cheng said the move had been prompted by several tragedies in cage homes in recent months, including an arson attack in Cross Street, Wan Chai, in which three people died and 13 were injured in September. The cage home was later found to be illegal. If the staff suspected an address to be an unlicensed bedspace apartment but could not pursue investigations further because of a landlord's objection, they could refer the matter to the department's licence division for a follow-up, Mr Cheng said. The Bedspace Apartment Ordinance requires all cage homes with more than 12 leaseholds to obtain a licence from the department to ensure safety. Department figures show there are 91 cage homes in Hong Kong, housing about 2,300 people. Sixty have either been licensed or will be licensed. The rest are completing refurbishments. But non-government organisations have identified at least 62 more and estimate the cage home population to be as high as 10,000. The crackdown will begin in two weeks in 18 districts. 'For the sake of safety, the staff will be teamed up with a leader to communicate in case of trouble,' Mr Cheng said. 'We might also seek co-operation from owners' corporation committees to help.' Other departments and welfare agencies will also provide information. A trial investigation in Wan Chai in October identified 90 cage homes in the district. More than 10 needed follow-up action for licensing. The department had only seven licensed bedspace apartments in Wan Chai on its records before the operation. Cage home social worker Iman Fok Tin-man of the Society for Community Organisation said she had reservations about the crackdown. 'It will affect the relationships between the landlords, tenants and us if we tip off the department,' she said.