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20 April 2011, 12:22 | Updated: 20 April 2011, 12:24
Bedford Borough Council has closed down three homes in the town in what Environmental Health Officers say are one of the worst cases they have ever seen in Bedford.
Action has been taken against two private landlords from Luton for serious breaches of basic safety rules at three houses on Prebend Street.
A worried tenant contacted the Council at the beginning of April as they had not had any electricity for two weeks and the landlord was not doing anything to put it right.
An investigation was then launched by Environmental Health Officers who found two flats, a launderette, a car wash and a two-storey house were all running off one commercial electricity supply as other supplies had been disconnected due to non-payments of bills.
Officers were concerned about the fire and safety risks due to the illegal supply and in cases such as this the Council has wide ranging powers in order to protect tenants. Immediate action was taken to close all three residential premises and the landlords were required to provide suitable alternative accommodation for the tenants affected. The properties will remain prohibited for living until they have reached a standard that does not pose a risk to tenants.
John Molyneux, Head of Environmental Health and Trading Standards, said: "Emergency Prohibition Orders can be used to close residential premises down if there is an imminent risk of serious harm to occupiers. In this case all the tenants had found alternative accommodation and the premises have now been officially prohibited.
"This case is one of the worst cases officers have come across for negligent behaviour by landlords. We take the safety of residents seriously and will ensure they are protected from rogue landlords who flout their legal duties. Failure to properly manage housing in the private rented sector in Bedford will not be tolerated. In this case the investigation is ongoing with further formal action being likely."