THE PUNITIVE fines being handed out by courts for breaches of fire safety laws have continued this month as a judge fined a Hertfordshire landlord £50,000 for the lack of emergency lighting and other failings at two rented properties.
The company which rents the homes, Lettings of London Limited, pleaded guilty to 18 offences relating to two houses of multiple occupation in Goldings Crescent, Hatfield.
Stevenage Magistrates Court ordered that the North London-based company pay £42,596 in fines and full costs of £10,626 to the local authority, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, which brought the prosecution. It has had to pay a victim surcharge of £170.
Officers from Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council investigated the two properties, at 25 and 32 Goldings Crescent, last year and discovered the breaches.
They was a lack of fire safety equipment, including faulty and missing emergency lighting. Additionally there was no working fire alarms or fire blankets, the self-closers on fire doors were not operating and rusted metal handrails on an external stair case outside one of the properties. In total, the defendant was charged with 18 offences relating to both rental properties.
The defendant said in mitigation that the homes were in a ‘good state of repair’ and regularly inspected, and that any issues were fixed in good time.
He also alleged that tenants had caused some of the issues, and produced testimonies from ‘satisfied’ tenants.
Simone Russell, corporate director at WHBC, told the local newspaper, Welwyn Hatfield Times: ‘This is the second case this year with one of the largest fines we have seen for offences relating to HMO properties.’
‘These were serious breaches of the law and could have led to severe injury or worse.
‘Everyone should feel confident when renting a property in Welwyn Hatfield and it’s important that we send a clear message to the small number of landlords who compromise the safety of their tenants – we will always act to protect our residents.
‘Landlords can join our council-run accreditation scheme, PAL, which makes it easier for landlords to understand meet high standards of management practice.
‘Residents looking for good quality accommodation to rent can also visit www.pal-online.org.uk to find a property from an accredited landlord or agent in the borough.’
New legislation introduced in October 2018 requires all HMOs with five or more tenants to be licensed.
It is a criminal offence to operate a licensable HMO without having made a valid application, and penalties include an unlimited fine and criminal record.
- Lux’s next free-to-attend Emergency Lighting Conference takes place in the Escape Zone at the LuxLive 2019 exhibition. The show takes place on Wednesday 13 November and Thursday 14 November 2018 at ExCeL London. Entry is free if you pre-register HERE.