Fire brigade evicts tenants from ‘illegal’ studios in Limehouse
PUBLISHED: 12:33 14 August 2013 | UPDATED: 12:33 14 August 2013
Fire authorities are evicting people sleeping illegally in commercial units after it emerged they were renting from rogue landlords.
Prohibition notices were served in a bid to force people to move out Cable Street Studios in Limehouse.
The London Fire Brigade acted after at least 20 people were discovered sleeping in the premises, which are only licensed for use for commercial purposes.
But it has now emerged that the units were being rented out as somewhere to live, with rogue landlords charging up to £1,000 per month, mainly to Bangladeshi immigrants.
Fire authorities and Tower Hamlets Council want to ensure that none of the units continue to be lived in.
A London Fire Brigade spokesman said: “We are now working with the landlord responsible for the studios to ensure that the notices are being complied with and our fire safety officers will be revisiting the premises to carry out further safety inspections.”
The illegal hostel was described by fire safety officers as a “potential death trap”.
Tenants used gas canisters for cooking in the cramped conditions, which prompted one to liken the building to a prison.
There is no central heating or kitchen facilities, and tenants share toilets in the units, which cost up to £1,000 per month.
The building, in Cable Street, is home to a mosque, a nightclub, and a bar. Artists and small businesses also rent out units.
London Assembly Member for City and East John Biggs called for a clampdown on illegal letting.
“It is despicable that this exploitation of people can carry on in Tower Hamlets by rogue landlords,” he said.
Sudbury Properties Ltd, which owns the premises, said in a statement that lettings are handled by a third party.
“We will continue to investigate these breaches and take appropriate action,” the statement said.
“Sudbury in no way should be implicated as complicit with any wrongdoings alleged to have taken place.
“Agents will be attending the property to investigate whether any of the units are being used for residential purposes and appropriate action to rectify any breaches will be taken.”