We have no evidence of any similar landlords locally, but recent cases nationally serve as a reminder that fire safety is not something any landlord should be casual about - it would be nice if the rules were clear and up to date but there is no excuse for ignorance or lax interpretation of those rules as one Luton landlord found after a tenant died in a fire in his HMO.
From Landlord Today: A landlord has been prosecuted following the death of a tenant in a house fire at an HMO said to have had inadequate fire safety precautions. The case was brought by Luton council, working with Bedfordshire Police and Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, against landlord Bhagwent Sagoo.
The fire broke out at the property on March 27 2019 originating in the first floor rear bedroom occupied by Evaldas Grisciukas, who died in the incident.
Another resident attempted to help the victim but that resident sustained burns, suffered smoke inhalation and was himself significantly injured.
The court heard that the premises were occupied by seven people at the time of the fire and the judge concluded that there were inadequate fire precautions.
In particular, there were no fire doors and although some fire detection was present, it is not clear if it worked. They were not interlinked, as required by law.
Sagoo pleaded guilty to a charge under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, relating to a failure to take general fire precautions placing persons at risk of death or serious injury in the case of fire.
He accepted that he was the manager but said he believed the property had been let as a single tenancy.
The judge commented that he ought to have known who was in the house and would have done, had he carried out regular inspections.
Sagoo was sentenced to four months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with a fine of £20,000 and £12,000 costs.
A spokesman for the council says: "We are committed to keeping residents safe and inadequate fire safety in a HMO just isn't acceptable. We expect landlords to put the safety of their tenants first and are pleased to see this sentencing handed down.
"We'd like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Mr Grisciukas."
Following sentencing, the judge commended two other residents in the property for their bravery.
The fire protection measures required in HMOs vary depending on the layout, but generally they are required to have fire-doors to every bedroom, lounge, kitchen, and an alarm system, possibly including interlinked detectors in bedrooms, lounges, kitchens and in the hall and landing as determined by the type of occupant and the Fire Risk Assessment for that specific property.
There are rogue landlords out there. Interestingly, they appear most often in areas of extreme poverty / large ethnically diverse communities / Labour controlled councils. There is no implied causality here - just a hypothesis that based on this, it is unsurprising that we don't see such cases locally.
Islington landlords fined £110,500 after housing tenants in dangerous and overcrowded conditions (read here)
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