06 August 2014

A Hertfordshire landlord has been fined £33,000 for breaching several house in multiple occupation (HMO) management rules.

Sarah Goldsmith was found guilty at Watford Magistrates Court.

None of the rooms in the nine-bedroom house, in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, had fire doors.

Although there were fire extinguishers present at the property, they were all out of date.

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council described the property as a 'High Risk HMO' due to its size and high turnover of tenants who stay for short periods of time and do not know each other. This combination of factors makes the property a higher risk, particularly in the event of fire.

Councillor Roger Trigg, Executive Member for Planning, Housing and Community, commented: "We are delighted with this outcome which is a great result. These offences related to fire safety and if not dealt with, could have led to serious injury and even death.

"To protect the safety of tenants in the borough, the council wants to work with private landlords and agents as much as possible. We regard prosecution as a last resort, but we would like to send out a clear message to landlords and agents who do not respond to the advice, information and support that we provide that we will take enforcement action against those who do not comply with the law."

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.