Please Note: This Article is 8 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

A London landlord with a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) property in St Helens has been fined after she failed to install a fire alarm system or tackle problems with damp and excess cold in the 6 occupant property.

The London based criminal law solicitor, Grace France, was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay costs of £3,807 after failing to comply with a formal Improvement Notice served on her in January 2013 by St Helens Council.

Appearing before District Judge Miriam Shelvey, France, of Witton Road, Victoria, London, changed her plea to guilty during the trial at St Helens Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 17th September.

The Court heard that the council had become concerned after reports about the living conditions at the house in Prescot Road, St Helens, which had been converted into six bedsits.

Evidence was herd that Council officers had attempted to work with this landlord over a four-year period to remedy a series of disrepair issues, which included the lack of a fire alarm system, damp and excess cold in the property.

With the aim of gaining a reasonable working relationship with the landlord two ‘Minded To’ notices had been served, but despite further reminders the necessary repair work was not carried out and conditions in the building continued to deteriorate.

The Formal Improvement Notice was served on France in January 2013 but work still did not get completed.

A re-inspection almost 12 months later in December 2013 showed that little attempt to get work done had taken place. With the conditions getting worse throughout this whole process, tenants had continued to live in the property occupying the bedsits until November 2013.

Regulations applying to HMOs in particular are much more stringent that with single house lets.
Landlords and managers of commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake an appropriate fire risk assessment every 12 months under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Anyone responsible for the management of HMO premises (the designated “responsible person”) must comply with The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 and where appropriate meet the licencing requirements under The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007

While the majority of landlords and managers of these premises do, if the management tasks are neglected, as in this case, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.

Please Note: This Article is 8 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.


  1. Grace France’s Response to St Helens Councils\’ web of shameless lies and deceit.

    The Council claims that there was a breach in fire regulations. This so-called fire breach actually relates to the middle door in the hall way containing a keyhole (key long ago disposed of). The council also blatantly fabricate that I failed to install a fire alarm system in the house, when an electrical fire alarm was installed in early 2012, replacing individual battery powered smoke alarms. St Helens council verified this with a fire officer and were entirely satisfied. The disingenuous actions of St Helens Council was revealed when again they wildly exaggerated as well as fabricated claims describing a fully gas central-heated house as excessively cold. The culpability attributed to me was, because I am the proprietor of the property, and deemed to be ultimately responsible, despite the fact that I had delegated the entire management and responsibility to my agent who had inadvertently made minor breaches to the requirements of the council, such as only disposing of the key instead of taking out the lock and filling in the keyhole. There were several extenuating circumstances such as a neighbour’s gutter not being cleared of foliage and thus the water build up caused damp damage to my property which I rectified but the council refused to acknowledge. The above spurious claims and fabrications were made by the council to bolster their case and publish their bogus claims to make my case appear far worse than it was. The case is being appealed.

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