Families have been forced out of a block of converted flats after fire safety inspectors declared it unsafe, we can exclusively reveal.
The property at 10 Midland Road in High Town was inspected by Beds Fire and Rescue Service after authorities received an inquiry about benefits.
The inspection found that the building violated fire safety laws, and an order was made forcing tenants to leave last night.
One woman told Luton News: “It’s like something out of a war zone, people are screaming and fighting. Lots of us have just had to dump our stuff.
“I have had to find a hotel for the night. They are talking about taking the roof off, this is going to take months.
“I feel so angry, I have done nothing wrong. I have nowhere to go.”
Many of the tenants come from outside of the UK, and were left with few options after leaving their homes.
Three families with children were granted accommodation by the council.
Landlord Mohammed Nadeem claimed that the order was a temporary measure. He denied responsibility for the failings and said a third-party lease-holder was responsible for the lettings.
He said: “I’m very concerned but it’s nothing that can’t be rectified.
“I just feel that the local authority should have done it differently, you can’t just throw people out like that.”
In a joint statement from Luton Borough Council and Beds Fire and Rescue Service, a spokesman said: “The Prohibition Order was served on the landlord following an inspection of converted flats within parts of a commercial building which were unsuitably protected from fire.
“The Order prevents any persons from resting or sleeping in the premises.”
Simon Barker, operational commander at Beds Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We served our Prohibition Order to protect the occupants and it will not be lifted until the owner carries out suitable restoration work to make the building fire-safe.
“It is unfortunate these people have had to leave what was their home, but we could not allow them to stay there without proper fire safety, their lives were at risk and we could not let this situation continue.”
Cllr Tom Shaw, portfolio holder for housing at Luton Borough Council, confirmed the authority was investigating alleged breaches at the address of planning contraventions and regulations.
He said: “Industrial units cannot be divided into flats without appropriate planning permission and building regulation from the planning authority, and all landlords of addresses with two or more households are required to apply for an HMO licence.
“Any landlord or owner of properties we suspect are acting in an illegal way we will use all the powers at our disposal to pursue them.
“While our investigations are continuing it is not possible to comment further at this stage.”
Any tenants affected by the closure are being asked to contact Luton Borough Council.