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23 July 2014
A Warwickshire landlord who put his tenants’ lives at risk, has been successfully prosecuted by the County Council and fined £50,000.
Harmesh Bagga, trading through Ignite Properties, had not obtained licences to let out any of his Leamington Spa residences, which were occupied by students.
Housing inspectors visited the three properties in question and found serious breaches of management and fire safety regulations, including a disabled fire alarm system; partly blocked escape routes and stairwells; and inadequate fire separation from commercial property (which was of particular concern as the accommodation was above a food premises).
District housing spokesman Councillor Vincett told the Leamington Observer that: “the vast majority of landlords work well with the council and provide good quality accommodation. However my officers will not hesitate to enforce the law where tenants’ health and safety is at risk and landlords blatantly disregard the law."
The magistrates said they were “appalled” by what they had heard during the trial and that he had put his tenants at risk of serious injury or even death.
The £50,000 that Bagga had to pay, included both the fine and court costs.
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.