02 September 2014
A landlord who rented a house that could have ‘killed his tenants’ was fined £30,000 yesterday, after pleading guilty to a variety of offences relating to health & safety and a breach of fire safety regulations.
Following an anonymous tip-off, an inspection of the house in Darlington revealed potentially deadly hazards, including overcrowding, visible electrical cables, lack of smoke alarms, fire doors and safe windows, as well as a host of other dangers to life.
The lives of the six men living in the crowded terraced house, where every room except the kitchen and bathroom was a bedroom, including one room that was only 1.1m high, were put at risk by the landlord’s blatant disregard of health and safety, according to housing officers.
The landlord, Mizan Abdin had not attended the inspection and failed to provide certificates proving that gas and electrical supplies and appliances were safe.
The court heard that fire exits were obstructed, lighting was broken or missing, fittings were broken and waste water spilled into the backyard. In addition, the property’s sole smoke alarm was broken and dangling from a wall, while plug sockets were overloaded and light fittings left hanging.
He pleaded guilty by post to 17 counts of failing to comply with regulations in respect of housing in multiple occupation and one of failing to have a licence to manage his property.
Christine Selby, chairwoman of the bench, fined Abdin £32,070, saying: “This situation is appallingly dangerous and the state of this house could have led to injury or even, in the worst case, death.”
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.