A total of 28 people have been found living in what were described as "dreadful conditions", crammed inside a four-bedroom house in Harrow, north London.
Enforcement officers were horrified to find 28 people, including several children, living at a property with only one bathroom on Mollison Way, Edgware, on Monday (16 October).
They raided the house after a neighbour complained of overcrowding. They uncovered "dreadful conditions, including a fly-tipped and rat-infested backyard, as well as a family of five living in a small room", according to a Harrow Council spokesman.
Masooma Sarwar told IBTimes UK that the tenants, most of whom were Romanian workers, were living in "appalling conditions".
"With damp and dirt everywhere, every room – including the common room – was filled with numerous beds and bunk beds. The property didn't even have any working smoke detectors."
The landlord claimed he knew nothing about the state of the property or the number of residents living there. He assured the council that he would deal with the overcrowding and get the property licensed. Harrow Council says it will take further action and consider prosecuting the landlord if he does not improve the conditions.
Harrow Councillor Graham Henson said: "Can you imagine being crammed into a house with more than 20 people? What a horrible way to live. And how the landlord did not know about this is shocking. It's unsafe, unsanitary and exploits people who really want a decent place to live."
"As it's the landlord's responsibility to check on their property, we will be forcing him to make repairs, deal with the overcrowding and get it licensed or face a big fine. Our licensing scheme is there to ensure incidents like this don't happen. We'll continue to carry out raids and seek to prosecute anyone found flouting the rules and operating illegally," he added.