18 December 2014
A landlord has been fined £6000 because a Brighton property had an obstructed fire escape route and no fire alarm system.
In addition, it was not licensed as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) and was described as ‘filthy’ by investigators.
Anthony Martin pleaded guilty to charges under the Housing Act 2004 and the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 at Eastbourne Magistrates Court. Namely, managing a HMO without the required licence and failing to ensure that ‘All means of escape in case of fire were kept free from obstruction and maintained in good repair.’
Officers who visited the premises found that the property was in generally poor condition, including tiles hanging off the kitchen ceiling, holes in a bedroom ceiling, and a worn stair carpet causing a tripping hazard.
Councillor Bill Randall, chair of the Brighton and Hove City Council housing committee, said: “Residents living in the private rented sector shouldn’t have to languish in properties that don’t have adequate fire alarms or escape routes.
“This prosecution underlines the need for licensing of HMOs which generally pose the biggest fire risks so that properties are inspected to protect the health and safety of residents.
“We will work with landlords to help them meet basic standards but if landlords fail to cooperate with us we will prosecute them.”
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.