No fewer than 16 men were found to be living in a one-bedroom flat filled with bunk beds made out of bits of wooden pallets in a rundown flat above a shop in Burnt Oak, north London, during a dawn raid last week.
Police and licensing enforcement officers entered the converted property, which consists of three rooms, shortly before 6am last Wednesday following complaints from neighbours about the number of people hanging around outside the property.
Officers found the tenants were sleeping seven, five and four to each room. Some of the men claimed not to have any contact with the landlord of the unlicensed House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).
Spencer Randolph, head of housing services, said: “These tenants are being exploited and forced to live in appalling conditions by a landlord who has no regard for their safety.
“They are living in a fire trap that is uninhabitable, grossly overcrowd and insanitary. People renting in the private sector in Brent are entitled to live in homes that are safe and well-managed."
An investigation is now under way to track down the identity of the landlord. Some of the tenants said that they had only been living in the property for a few days.
Cllr Harbi Farah, cabinet member for housing and welfare reform, said: “It is not acceptable for residents to live in such substandard conditions. Safety measures in the home should be a priority for letting agencies and landlords.
“A HMO licence helps protect tenants against rogue landlords and reduces antisocial behaviour in residential areas.”