Friday, 23 August 2013

Slough landlord fined £20,000 for putting tenants at risk

14 Aug 2013

A Slough landlord and a development firm has been fined a total of £20,250 for putting tenant safety at risk through fire safety breaches.

Gurpartap Singh Bhullar of Manor Lodge, Mildenhall Road and Bellforce Developments Ltd, of which Mr Bhullar was the director, were charged with the violation at Reading Crown Court on Thursday July 25th in regards to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order.

The multiple occupancy home at Mildenhall Road was inspected in October 2010 and was found to have numerous issues, including having no fire risk assessment in place, fire exists obstructed by combustile storage and fire exit gates locked shut.

There was also an inadequate fire alarm system, which had its smoke detectors removed, while its call points were inoperative.

Inspectors also found that there was insufficient emergency lighting, inadequate fire safety training for those on the site and no maintenance of the alarm and lighting systems.

Initially, there were a total of 38 charges at the Magistrates Court, but the defendants pleaded not guilty and it was referred to Reading Crown Court where they entered a guilty plea to six of the eight charges.

Judge Grainger ruled that the failures put the tenants at risk of death or injury and fined the company £13,500 and Mr Bhullar £6,750, with a further £21,732.62 having to be paid in costs to Royal Berkshire Fire Authority.

"This sends out a clear message that landlords who persistently ignore their legal obligations, to ensure their premises meet fire safety standards and thereby risk tenants’ safety, will not only be prosecuted but will receive significant financial penalties," said David Walden, Royal Berkshire Fire Authority's fire safety legal support manager.

"This was a complex case which resulted in further charges brought by Slough Borough Council. The legislation is very clear and there is no excuse for landlords who fail to maintain their rental properties in compliance with the law."

In a bid to remove potential fire hazards, commercial buildings and non-domestic 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.

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