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Prohibitions on overcrowded homes

Nine properties in Boston were inspected on Tuesday, April 8, as part of a joint agency crackdown on unsuitable homes of multiple occupation (HMO).

Unsafe electrics discovered at another house being used for multiple occupation

Eight will now be subject to prohibition orders, restricting their use to a single family each. The ninth is subject to a planning application and, subsequent to this, an application for improvement works to be carried out.

The homes are all owned by a Latvian landlord understood to have a direct link to a firm of gangmasters operating out of Lithuania.

Agencies taking part in the inspections were Boston Borough Council, Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, Lincolnshire Police and the Gangmaster's Licensing Authority. The landlord of the town centre properties had been given 24 hours' notice of the inspection.

Beds and mattresses were subsequently discovered in sheds, outbuildings and cupboards and personal possessions had been crammed into wardrobes, drawers and suitcases. Tenants were found in only one of the properties. 

Pete Baxter, the borough council's senior housing officer, said: "It was clear that there were a lot of people in occupation, evidenced by the number of beds, the hastily-stored beds and bedding, along with the number of fridges and freezers full of food.

"None of these properties had been adapted for multiple occupancy - there were no fire doors, no protected means of escape from fire, no means of fire alarm and detection, no horizontal or vertical fire separation, no fire extinguishers or fire blankets."

The council had sought to work with the landlord for more than one-and-a-half years and had recently made a similar prohibition order on another one of his properties, which was wholly unsuited to use as an HMO.

Steps had been taken to adapt only one property, which is itself subject to a partial prohibition served by the fire service.

In the opinion of the council most of the properties had inadequate toilet and bathing facilities and inadequate means for the preparation and storage of food. The electrical installation in each of the properties was either poor or dangerous.

Each requires in the region of £7,000 to £10,000 to bring them up to standard, so it was considered unrealistic to serve an Improvement Notice on each property. However in the first instance Improvement Notices will be served in relation to electrical safety.

Prohibition Orders are defined within Section 258 0f the Housing Act 2004. The landlord has a right of appeal.

Mr Baxter pointed out that no ordinary family home, whether a house or a flat, is safe or suited for use in multiple occupancy and requires major works for the change of use, which may also require planning permission and certainly a Building Regulations application.

Mr Baxter said: "We are not revealing the addresses as the poor souls caused to reside in these houses are not at fault."

HMO - mattresses crammed into a shed Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Mattresses found crammed into a shed at one of the properties

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