Significant fines imposed for fire safety breaches

May 13, 2024

Significant fines imposed for fire safety breaches

A property management firm in Liverpool has been fined nearly £28,000 for serious breaches of fire safety regulations at a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

Newsham Park Estates Ltd incurred the penalty following an inspection by housing officials in Kensington, where alarming safety concerns were unearthed.

One of the primary violations involved a blocked fire escape route, obstructed by a large shipping container. Further exacerbating the situation, a back gate was discovered padlocked, effectively sealing off an essential exit point.

Officials inspected after a resident raised complaints with the local council. During the inspection of the property in Belmont Drive, inspectors uncovered a number of safety deficiencies including:

  • Nine fire doors found to be in disrepair, compromising their effectiveness in containing potential fires.
  • Numerous holes and gaps detected in the floor and walls of several rooms, further jeopardising the safety of occupants.

In the subsequent sentencing hearing at Wirral Magistrates Court, Newsham Park Estates Ltd pleaded guilty to four breaches of the Management of House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) Regulations 2006. The fines levied against the firm amounted to £27,900, with specific penalties allocated for the padlocked gate, the obstructive shipping container, the defective fire doors, and the structural flaws in the property.

Including additional costs and a victim surcharge, the total sum payable by the company reached £32,694. This significant penalty underscores the gravity of neglecting fire safety obligations within rental properties.

Responding to the verdict, Louise Harford, Interim Director of Housing at Liverpool City Council, emphasised the council’s commitment to enforcing legal responsibilities on landlords: “This case demonstrates clearly that we will investigate and take action when there is clear evidence that landlords are not meeting their legal responsibilities.” She reiterated that such measures are essential for ensuring the safety and well-being of tenants.

Furthermore, Harford encouraged tenants to report concerns regarding disrepair and inadequate living conditions to the council promptly. By doing so, authorities can swiftly address issues and ascertain whether any legal violations are occurring.

In response to the enforcement action, the property has since undergone re-inspection, with necessary remedial measures implemented to rectify the identified safety hazards. This proactive approach aims to safeguard the occupants and uphold the requisite standards of fire safety within the premises.

FIA
April 2024

Our Comment

HHMOs, which are properties rented to tenants forming more than one household, pose unique fire risks due to their structure and occupancy. Arguably, effective fire safety management in HMOs is not just a legal requirement – it’s more of a moral obligation. Adherence to safety protocols and regular safety management checks play a crucial role in preventing fire tragedies in this type of housing.

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