A landlord has been jailed for 13 months for fire safety breaches following a 2019 basement ‘flat’ fire that led to the death of a 32-year-old man.

The “entirely avoidable” tragedy was caused by a fire that started from the cooker situated in the basement or cellar of a mid-terraced house in Harehills, confirmed West Yorkshire Police. 

It is believed that the downstairs space had been unofficially converted into a flat and housed Philip Sheridan, on housing benefits, who had signed a tenancy agreement with landlord Humrazz Shahid in 2013.

When the fire broke out, Sheridan attempted to escape through the door of the flat and suffered several burns to his body. He died in hospital a number of days later “as a result of complications arising from severe smoke inhalation”.

In an inquest, both the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and the local authority concluded that the premises was “unsuitable for human habitation, due in part to the inadequacy of the fire detection and escape measures”.

Leeds Crown Court heard that the entrance door to the flat had been partially blocked by the cooker. It was an inward-opening door and did not have a suitable handle. Additionally, no smoke or fire alarm had been fitted at the property at the time.

Shahid is believed to have been responsible for the management of the property since 2008 and admitted to the “offence of failing to discharge a duty owed under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974”.

On 3 May 2023, he appeared at court for sentencing where he was immediately given a 13-month jail term. Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Marc Bowes, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “The death of Philip Sheridan in these circumstances was an absolute tragedy, but one that was entirely avoidable had Shahid taken his responsibilities to ensure a safe living environment seriously.

We worked closely with Leeds City Council to bring this successful prosecution, and we hope that seeing Shahid held accountable for his flagrant breach of the regulations will serve as a clear reminder to other landlords and property managers who fail to meet their legal obligations to put the safety of their tenants first.”

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