Safety is the Key.           Simple. Sensible. Safety. - T: 020 8406 5039   M: 0777 614 0913  info@safetyisthekey.co.uk

January 2018
Former county councillor landlord given suspended prison sentence for fire breaches after baby thrown out of flat window
 
A landlord has been given a suspended prison sentence following a fire at an HMO in Preston, Lancashire.
Valli Patel, 74, was ordered to pay £18,455 in fines and costs, in addition to a 24 week prison sentence suspended for 18 months after he pleaded guilty to 7 charges under The Fire Safety Order.
Patel, a former county councillor, owned premises at Rutland Street, Preston, which contained a nursery and three first floor flats.
 
Warren Spencer, prosecuting for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service told the court that In the early hours of 9 April, 2017, a serious fire started in an electrical meter at the bottom of the single communal staircase to the flats, resulting in the occupiers having to make their escape via first floor windows. Due to the build-up of smoke and heat in flat 22a, Durga Pandy had to take the drastic action of throwing her 18-month-old child from a first-floor window into the arms of her husband on the street below. Both mother and child spent the night in hospital suffering from smoke inhalation. As a result of the fire, a further 4 occupants had had to escape via first floor windows were rescued by the fire service and members of the public after standing precariously on some signage for the ground floor nursery.
 
Mr Spencer told the court that a fire safety inspector had attended the premises following the fire to discover if a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment had been carried out and to establish if any general fire safety precautions had been provided, and operated, to ensure the safety of relevant persons at the premises. An inspection of the fire alarm system by a qualified fire alarm engineer determined that the fire detectors and sounders covering the flats had, in fact, been disconnected from the system.
Significantly, Mr Patel had made a building regulations application to Preston City Council in 1995 when the property was converted to flats. The application had stated:
a) that emergency lighting should be provided in the stairway
b) flat entrance doors should be fire resisting with smoke seals
c) outlines where alarm system detector heads should be placed, including detection in the stairway
d) that the fire alarm should be audible in all flats, irrespective of which detector head actuates
 
When interviewed, Mr Patel had accepted that he had never tested the fire alarm system, and that the last time he had heard the fire alarm sound was 8 to 10 years ago. Mr Patel stated that he had assumed that testing the fire alarm system was the responsibility of the Nursery on the ground floor, despite the fact that the alarm was not connected to the Nursery.
 
The following breaches of the Fire Safety Order were found within the premises:

Flat doors which had mortise locks, key operated which were inappropriate for this type of accommodation
inappropriate fire alarm detection within the flats
No working emergency lighting in communal stairwell
No smoke detection in corridor
no “borrowed light” in the corridor, which had the final exit door
final exit door which had a mortise lock fitted which is wrong for this type of accommodation,
gas installation consumer unit on only means of escape
electrical consumer unit without adequate fire resisting cupboard
lack of appropriate fire resisting doors on flats
no self-closing flat doors
lack of suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment
lack of a clear evacuation policy
lack of fire safety information to be passed to residents
 
Sentencing, Judge Robert Altham said that the defendant’s culpability in this situation was high and that the risk of death or serious injury was also high. However, he stated that the defendant had shown that he had a positive good character and was a benevolent and public spirited man in many ways had had a productive working life. He had received references which suggested that in no sense was he a bad landlord.

Judge Altham stated that this was a serious matter and that a serious message needed to go out to those responsible for similar types of premises.


November 2017
Owner of “death trap” Bethnal Green guest house fined £250k
The owner of a “death trap” Bethnal Green guest house has been given a six month suspended prison sentence and fined £250,000 for fire safety offences.
 
 
November 2017
£5,000 bill for landlords of fire hazard property
A LANDLORD couple have to pay nearly £5,000 in court bills for not getting their property properly licensed.

Council officers found a litany of fire safety and other defects at the Blossom Street three-storey building which Aligul and Gulten Kala rented out to six people in five rooms over three floors, said Victoria Waudby, prosecuting.

Aligul Kala applied for housing benefit for one of his tenants, quoting a monthly rent more than twice that which he had told a housing and community officer he was getting for the room.
 

September 2017
Barber shop owner fined for letting workers sleep in basement
A barber shop owner told a court he was “really sorry” for failing to stop workers sleeping in a basement with no fire safety provision, as a Cumbria court fined him more than £10,000.
 
Mehmet Oncu, 36, leaseholder of Oh My Cut, in Main Road, Windermere, appeared at Furness Magistrates’ Court on September 17 where he initially denied nine men had been living in the basement of his business, as concerns were raised over the safety of the building. The Defendant pleaded guilty to nine counts of failing to comply with the requirement of a prohibition notice and where failure risks serious injury or death in case of fire.
 
Warren Spencer, prosecuting for Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service told the court that fire officers had become concerned about the premises after receiving complaints about noise coming from the premises during the night. when fire officers attended they found bed and bed linen in the basement, and issued a prohibition notice to prevent workers form sleeping and resting in the basement area. but when the returned in May they found further evidence that workers were still sleeping in the basement.
 
Oncu admitted he failed to install fire extinguishers, alarms, detectors, and lighting which would protect his staff in the event of a fire. The defendant played down claims made by inspectors from Cumbria County Council and the fire service, who believed a group of men had been living in the basement, despite the lack of basic safety equipment and inadequate lighting.
 
Oncu, who was not legally represented in court said: “The reason I’m here is because I’m the lease holder, I’m not a barber myself. I don’t work there, but these guys have caused me trouble. I told them not to use the basement, but I didn’t know.”
 
Oncu was fined £500 for each offence, totalling £4,500 and ordered to pay £3,000 in legal costs incurred by Cumbria County Council and the cost of the three visits made by the fire service at a cost of £2,831.

He must also pay a victim surcharge of £170 making a total of £10,501.


 
May 2017
Court orders record fine in London Fire Brigade prosecution
A corporate landlord and its management company have been fined a record £250,000 following a ‘potentially lethal’ fire in Westminster, which saw 13 people rescued by the London Fire Brigade (LFB).
 
The fine is the biggest financial penalty handed down in a fire safety prosecution case brought by LFB relating to a single privately rented property. In addition to the fine the Brigade was awarded full prosecution costs of £49,500.
 
Property owner Crownpark Investments Ltd along with City Estates, which managed the six floor terraced house conversion, were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court after pleading guilty to three offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
 
Sentencing the defendants, His Honour Judge Griffiths said the landlord and management company had been aware of the fire safety failings within the property but reacted “by putting their heads in the sand”. He also added the building was an “accident waiting to happen.”
 
A fire broke out at the two 19 century houses on Eccleston Square, which had been converted into flats, during the early hours of 21 February 2011. Eight fire engines and around 60 firefighters were called to the blaze which ripped through the building and left its second, third and fourth floors badly damaged. Two people had to be rescued from the roof of the premises, four were rescued from the third floor and a further seven were led to safety out of the property by fire crews.
 
Following the fire, LFB fire safety inspectors uncovered a number of fire safety failings which would have put the occupants at risk of ‘death or serious injury’ in the event of a fire. These included:
 
the doors to the individual flats provided inadequate protection to the escape route in the event of a fire
there was no fire alarm or fire detection system inside the flats or communal areas of the building
there was no fire risk assessment in place for the building.

Following the court case, the Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Dan Daly said: “The landlord and management company showed utter contempt for the safety of their tenants when they so blatantly ignored the fire safety failures in the building.  Hopefully the size of the fine handed down in this case will send a strong message to other private landlords who ignore their fire safety responsibilities in such a brazen way.


December 2016, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.
Defendant - Mr Karamat Hussain, Landlord 2-8 Slade Lane, Manchester
Charged with failure to provide suitable fire risk assessment, lack of effective fire doors, failure to comply with enforcement notice.
12 month prison sentence, suspended for 2 years, 200 hours unpaid work. Costs £11,025.
 
 
December 2016, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.
Defendant - Mr Graham Toms, Director of Europa Holiday Park
Charged with failure to provide suitable emergency lighting, failure to provide adequate staff training, failure to provide a suitable emergency plan and failure to keep emergency fire exit doors free from locks.
Sentenced to 6 months, suspended for 2 years. Fined £40,000 plus costs of £15,474. Total fine of £55,474.
 
November 2016, Scarborough Borough Council.
Defendant - Mr Gary Fixter, landlord of 4/5 Leading Post Street
Charged with failure to maintain internal fire doors, failure to provide an adequate fire alarm and detection system and failure to maintain fire safety systems.
Fined £24,000 plus costs of £18,000. Total fine of £42,000.
 
June 2016, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Defendant - Minister Care Management, Croftwood Care Home
Charged with failure to provide a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment, failure to provide an adequate fire alarm and detection system, failure to demonstrate evacuation procedures and failure to provide suitable fire compartmentation.
Fined £40,000 plus costs of £15,000. Total fine of £55,000.
 
June 2016, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.
Defendant - Helen Green, The Devonia Care Home, Emsworth
Charged with failure to comply with an enforcement notice and failure to comply with a prohibition notice.
Fined £3000 plus costs of £1,824. Total fine of £4,944.
 
June 2016, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Defendant - Smallwood Care Home Ltd., Cheshire
Charged with failure to provide a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment, failure to provide an evacuation procedure, failure to provide adequate means of escape from the upper floors, failure to provide a suitable fire detection system, failure to provide adequate compartmentation, failure to provide fire safety training for staff and failure to maintain systems provided for fire safety.
Fined £40,000 plus costs of £19,283. Total fine of £59,283.
 
June 2016, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service.
Defendant - Mr Nathan Jones, Vanilla Bar, Blackwood High Street
Charged with failure to cooperate with South Wales Fire and Rescue Service.
Fined £6000 plus costs of £7,423.09. Total fine of £13,423.09.
 
May 2016, Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Defendant - Mr Graeme Kerry, Bell Pub, Hoddesdon
Charged with failure to provide a suitable fire alarm and detection system, and failure to provide adequate emergency lighting.
Fined £25,000 plus costs of £6,819. Total fine of £31,819.
 
May 2016, London Fire Brigade.
Defendant - Mr Arunthavachelvan Jegatheepan, SN Food & Wine, Brixton
Charged with failure to carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment, failure to provide a suitable fire alarm and detection systemand failure to provide suitable escape routes from the first floor accommodation.
2 month suspended prison sentence. 100 hours unpaid work. Plus court costs of £8000.
 
April 2016, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.
Defendant - Mr Gary Gregory, Camria Hotel, Paignton
Charges include failure to act upon the findings of the fire risk assessment, failure to provide a suitable fire alarm system, failure to provide and maintain suitable fire escape routes.
Fined £11,400 plus costs of £4,604 and a victim surcharge of £120. Total fine of £16,124
 
April 2016, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.
Defendant - Mr John Gregson, Tai Ping Chinese Restaurant in Liverpool
Charged with failure to carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment, failure to provide and maintain a suitable fire alarm system, failure to provide fire resisting doors, failure to provide suitable emergency lighting and failure to provide adequate fire separation.
Fined £40,000 plus costs of £6000. Total fine of £46,000.
 
April 2016, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.
Defendant - Mr Andrew Jones, Naylor Street, Liverpool
Charges include failure to provide adequate fire precautions, failure to carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment, failure to ensure public safety, failure to provide sufficient emergency lighting and failure to provide a suitable fire alarm system.
Sentenced to 8 months, suspended for 2 years. Handed 2 year supervision order. Ordered to carry out 150 hours unpaid work. Fined £1,200.
 
March 2016, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.
Defendant - Mr Mustafa Duran, the Golden Grill, Brighton
Charged with failure to comply with a prohibition notice.
18 months conditional discharge plus £1040 in costs.
 
March 2016, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.
Defendant - Shaftsbury Care Group Ltd., Donwell House, Washington, Tyne and Wear
Charged with failure to keep fire doors closed, failure to provide suitable portable fire fighting equipment, failure to follow through on actions identified in the fire risk assessment.
Fined £380,000 plus costs of £29,222.
 
February 2016, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.
Defendant - Peter Wilkes, Summerhill Hotel, Paignton
Charged with four failures to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Fined £1,500 per offence and ordered to pay court costs of £5,430 plus a victim surcharge of £120. Total fine of £11,500.
 
February 2016, London Fire Brigade.
Defendant - Lewisham Homes housing association
Charged with failure to maintain fire doors and failure to review the Fire Risk Assessment.
Fined £40,000 plus costs of £23,407.

February 2016, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Defendant - Mr Shahid Aleem, Breck's Takeaway, Warrington
Charged with
-Failure to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
-Inadequate escape routes
-Failure to provide suitable means of giving warning in the event of a fire
Sentenced to 6 months per charge, suspended for 12 months. Plus 280 hours community work.


January 2016, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.
Defendant - Mr Karaca, the Golden Grill, Brighton
Charged with failure to comply with prohibition notice.
Fined £1000 plus court costs equal to £2454.10 and a court surcharge of £100.