These were the horrific scenes councillors were met with at illegal flats in a shop storeroom where children slept in cupboards.
A total of nine people, including a pregnant woman, were living in the accommodation created in the store room at the rear of the Premier supermarket in Bristol.
Owner of the shop, Singh Sachdeva, had created two 'flats' in the storage space
Space was so cramped that one adult and two children were having to sleep in cupboards.
Singh Sachdeva, from Surbiton, Surrey, didn't turn up to court and was convicted in his absence – and fined a total of £87,000.
He was fined £17,400 for each one of five different serious breaches of regulations covering Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMOs), including fire regulations and signs.
The people living there were effectively living in a storeroom – sharing the space with stock for the Premier store's shelves.
As the images from inside show, the area was very much a stockroom environment, with bare breezeblock walls, exposed wiring, metal and rotting wooden staircases, and a non-existent ceiling, reports Bristol Live.
“There was very poor fire resistant separation between the shop store and the flat above, with the floorboards of the living accommodation clearly visible from the storage area immediately below,” a council spokesperson said.
“Other property defects included large gaps around fire doors, offering no protection from potential fire or smoke hazards. There was no working fire detection in place prior to emergency smoke detectors being fitted by the council.
“One of the studio flats also lacked basic ventilation, with no external windows and limited access via a poorly maintained staircase,” he added.
Singh Sashdeva, who lives in Surbiton in Surrey, was ordered to pay £87,000 in fines, and with costs and a victim fund surcharge, he will have to pay £88,634.
“The magistrates felt that the high penalty reflected the money made from the tenants, given the severity of complete disregard for the safety of tenants, particularly children and the serious risk to life the property posed,” the council spokesperson added.
The city council has beefed up its action on tackling slum landlords, and has brought in tougher licensing rules for HMOs across Bristol, and landlord licensing more generally in many parts of Bristol.
“These were some of the worst conditions environmental health officers working in this field have seen,” said the council’s cabinet member for housing, Cllr Paul Smith.
“The property had been so badly built and managed that the tenants were constantly in serious danger.
“The risk was so severe that the council had little option but to formally order people not to live in the accommodation.
“This case is a prime example of a rogue landlord who has put the safety and welfare of tenants at risk and has been rightly convicted and fined for this.
“We are committed to investigating substandard accommodation and bringing landlords or agents that profit illegally from it to justice,” he added.
No one from Bristol City Council was able to confirm what happened to the people living in the property after the council visited on July 18 last year.
But Bristol Live understands that the people living there, including one woman who was pregnant at the time, called in the council to check out their substandard conditions, and were quickly moved out, with the council's housing team helping them to find private rented accommodation nearby.
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