13 August 2014

A landlord has been prosecuted for endangering his tenants’ lives by breaching fire safety regulations.

Fire broke out in the kitchen of an unoccupied ground-floor bedsit in one of Haresh Rambha Patel’s properties last May.

Nine tenants were in the building when the incident occurred. Firefighters rescued three people from the three-storey building and the other six clambered out of the back of the building.

The property, which contained 11 bedsits, had no emergency lighting or working smoke alarms. A fire extinguisher at the property had not been inspected for 25 years. The emergency exits were blocked and fire doors were either missing or jammed open.

Car parts and tyres stored in the basement of the property posed a serious risk as had the fire spread, they would have produced toxic fumes.

The walls between the bed-sits did not meet the standard of providing 60 minutes fire protection and had holes which would allow fire to spread.

Mr Patel did not have a licence to run houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) and was not on the fire safety register.

He pleaded guilty to seven offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, at Leicester Crown Court.

Mr Patel admitted to charges of:

  • Failure to take general fire precautions to ensure the safety of the premises, which caused a risk of death or serious injury;
  • Failure to make a suitable fire risk assessment;
  • Failure to make fire safety arrangements;
  • Failure to ensure that in the event of danger tenants were able to evacuate quickly and safely;
  • Failure to establish appropriate procedures for serious and imminent danger;
  • Failure to ensure the premises had safety equipment that was suitably maintained; and
  • Failure to ensure anyone was appointed to assist in undertaking preventative and protective measures.

Mr Patel will be sentenced in September 2014.

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.