Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority (GMFRA) and Rochdale Borough Council (RBC) decided to prosecute two landlords after attending a fire in the back yard of their property last March.
The two landlords Balvinder Kaur, aged 48, and her niece Amrit Singh who put lives in danger at their property in Rochdale have been fined more than £15,000 this week, after being successfully prosecuted for a series of fire safety failings at an unlicensed property.
They were fined £1000 each for each of the six offences and ordered to pay £1400 in fire service costs, as well as £300 council costs with a victim surcharge of £120. They were both given three months to pay £7832 in full or face further sanctions.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority said: “Firefighters extinguished the fire and noticed a flat above the shop which was being used by three people. Fearing that the flat wasn’t safe the crew called out a specialist fire protection manager and a full inspection was carried out,”.
The formal inspection found that the owners had failed to carry out their duties as HMO landlords:
– No proper fire alarm system has been installed
– There was a lack of fire separation between different areas of the building to prevent fire spread
– There was no fire resistance between the basement and floor above, which was the only way to and from the flat – meaning a fire in the basement would spread without warning
– The was a lack of emergency lighting on the staircase
– The stairs up to the flat were directly above the shop and a missing riser meant a fire in the shop would have spread onto the staircase and potentially trap the tenants
– There were four bedrooms accessed from a lounge and kitchen with no fire door – meaning a fire in the kitchen would spread into the lounge and toxic smoke could pass into the bedrooms and potential kill anyone sleeping
– No fire risk assessment had been carried out
– Combustible items and an electricity intake and meters were discovered in the basement of the building.
Assistant County Fire Officer Peter O’Reilly, GMFRS’ Director of Prevention and Protection, said:
“This case highlights that ignorance of the law is really no defence. These two women who had never been in trouble before, have been handed a criminal record and hefty fines because they gave no thought to fire safety.
“Landlords who collect rent must make sure that their properties are safe or face the consequences. Fortunately there was no fire inside the building or the consequences would have been far worse.”
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and HMO 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.
Anyone operating rental commercial and multi-occupied (HMO) rental premises should be aware that not fully complying with fire regulations and failing to carry out regular risk assessments can result in the Responsible Person facing an unlimited fine, up to two years in prison, and in either case, getting a criminal record.