"Beds in sheds‟ found during Lincolnshire inspection
15th April 2013
"Beds in sheds‟ found during Lincolnshire inspection Workers‟ beds were discovered in sheds and outbuildings, with extra mattresses stuffed into wardrobes and cupboards, when officers from the GLA and other partner agencies inspected nine houses in Lincolnshire.
The properties in Boston town centre were inspected last week by the GLA, Boston Borough Council, Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue and Lincolnshire Police as part of a joint agency crackdown on unsuitable homes of multiple occupation (HMO).
The houses are all owned by a Latvian landlord understood to have a direct link to a firm of gangmasters operating out of Lithuania.
Eight of the properties will now be subject to prohibition orders, restricting their use to a single family each. The remaining property was already subject to a planning application for improvements.
GLA Chief Executive Paul Broadbent said: “This is another example of how the GLA works in partnership to protect vulnerable people.
“Our remit remains, as always, to prevent worker exploitation in its many forms and in this case, by failing to take the appropriate steps, the safety of those living in these properties was being put at risk.”
Pete Baxter, the borough council‟s senior housing officer, said: “It was clear there were a lot of people in occupation, evidenced by the number of beds, the hastilystored 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 landlord had been given 24 hours‟ notice prior to the inspection. As well as discovering beds and mattresses in sheds and outbuildings, personal possessions had been crammed into wardrobes, drawers and suitcases.
The council also reported that 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 described as "poor‟ or "dangerous‟.
Each home requires in the region of £7,000 to £10,000 worth of work to bring them up to standard, so it was considered unrealistic to serve an Improvement Notice on each property.
Mr Baxter also 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.