Latest Prosecutions July 2018

31st July 2018

We share the latest council prosecutions against landlords who have failed to implement the relevant fire safety plans, some of which have resulted in toddler death, hefty fines and prison sentencing.

Case 1:

A Hatfield landlady has been prevented from managing properties in England and Wales for 10 years following a serious breach of fire safety guidance.

The FIA has reported that Ms Sarah Goldsmith, from Nantwich Cheshire, was charged with eight offences relating to a house in multiple occupation.

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council (WHBC) received a complaint from one of the tenants of the White House, 5 West View, in Hatfield in October 2016, claiming that it was overcrowded and that the loft was being used as a bedroom which was being accessed via a ladder.

When officers inspected the property they found a series of breaches in fire safety as follows:

      • No fire alarm or fire doors
      • No adequate means of escape
      • Electric heaters were being used in overcrowded rooms
      • Tenants were sleeping in loft rooms with no proper fire escape route
      • Portable electrical heaters were being used in overcrowded rooms which increased the risk of a fire.
      • A large hole in the wall of a tenant’s room affected the 30 minute fire separation between bedrooms

Ms Goldsmith agreed an out of court settlement and is not allowed to engage in the management of any rented property in England or Wales for a period of ten calendar years.

Councillor Tony Kingsbury, executive member for housing and community, said: “I hope that this case sends a clear message that we will not tolerate landlords who comprise the safety of their tenants.

“These offences were serious breaches of the law and could have led to severe injury or worse."

Original Source: FIA,  The Welwyn and Hatfield Times

Case 2:  

Landlord, Kamal Bains was told his failure to install smoke detectors at a rented house in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire was a “significant cause” of the deaths of two toddler boys. 

A fire was started following an alleged electrical fault in a television in the boys’ bedroom and their mother was beaten back by fire and heat as she desperately tried to save them.

West Yorkshire Police had commented that this was one of the first prosecutions to be brought about since changes in fire safety legislation were passed in October 2015. A legislation which now requires private sector landlords to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey in their properties.

Charges were dropped when Bains, who was on trial for manslaughter, admitted the health and safety violations.

Sentencing him, Mr Justice Males told him: "Your failure to fit smoke alarms was a significant cause of the children's deaths.”

Detective Superintendent Steve Thomas, of West Yorkshire Police, said: "We also hope that this case is a stark reminder to landlords and letting agents to treat their responsibilities seriously and they have an obligation to ensure that all properties are fully equipped with all adequate safety measures to ensure the safety of their tenants."

West Yorkshire's Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Dave Walton, said: "Had there been working smoke alarms in this property, the outcome could have been very different and these brothers could have had a future to look forward to.

"This landmark case shows how vitally important it is that landlords and letting agents take their responsibilities seriously or the consequences do not bear thinking about."

Original Source: FIA

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