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Serving fire officer to pay £25,000 over HMO blaze risks

teeside hmo fine

A serving fire officer whose tenants were at risk of dying in a fire in his unsafe HMO has been fined more than £15,000.

Mark Neary admitted six housing standards charges relating to three flats in Eston High Street, Middlesbrough, following a case brought by Redcar and Cleveland Council, reports The Northern Echo.

Teesside Magistrates Court heard how there was no additional fire protection system for the flats over and above that on the ground floor premises, while a key had been left in a fire control panel, meaning it was at risk of being tampered with.

Prosecutor Christopher Machin said there were doors with defects including missing hinges and damaged linings, inadequate partition walls which did not offer an adequate fire barrier, a light switch plate in a lounge which was not secure, leaving wires exposed, a stair with no handrail, and rubbish left in communal areas, including food waste and drug paraphernalia.

Locksmith

After efforts to contact Neary failed, a locksmith was needed to drill the locks and a subsequent inspection revealed a catalogue of faults.

Machin said tenants were at risk of dying in a fire, electrical shock or being hurt in a fall and that the admitted charges were “significant”. The prosecutor said one tenant was reliant on a portable heater to keep warm, which he carried around with him.

Neary, of The Mount, Normanby, was described as a professional landlord with a portfolio of at least 30 properties. Victoria Molloy, defending, said the premises in Eston High Street (pictured) had not been occupied since last December when all but one flat was vacant. Molloy added: “He [Neary] did not believe there was a risk because the tenants had moved out and the property was to be demolished.”

Neary was fined £15,500 and ordered to pay a court surcharge of £6,200 and costs of £4,647.

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