26 people have been found living in a three-bedroom family home in East London, following an inspection by housing enforcement officers from Newham Council.
The property, which was legally permitted to accommodate a family of up to seven people, was housing 25 adults and a child from multiple families.
Newham Council is citing the case as one of the worst examples of illegal overcrowding it has seen in recent years.
Several tenants were even residing in the property’s cellar, which had no windows and could only be accessed by using steep external steps at the rear of the property.
Investigators also uncovered numerous building and electrical hazards, insufficient bathroom facilities and inadequate furniture.
Tenants at the property claimed they were paying rent that amounted to at least £2,340 per month for the landlord.
Statutory overcrowding is a criminal offence under the 1985 Housing Act and the landlord could be prosecuted if it can be established that he knowingly allowed or directly ensured that the house was overcrowded.
The council has made it clear that it intends to prosecute the landlord, who had previously been given an enforcement order, three years ago, for a breach of planning permission.
While the tenants will not be asked to leave the property immediately they are likely to find themselves homeless after the landlord responds to council demands.
Over recent years, illegal overcrowding is becoming more common for areas across the UK and it is not restricted solely to London.
Areas where there is a lack of affordable housing, or where rent and levels of migration are high, are also more likely to have the same issue.