Managing Agent Fined
A MANAGING agent was fined £10,000 and had costs of over £16,500 awarded against them for flouting fire safety laws.
Bridgeford & Co. Limited pleaded guilty to four offences relating to fire safety management at Canterbury Magistrates Court yesterday (Tuesday.)
Kent Fire and Rescue (KFRS) were called to at Ethelbert Terrace in Cliftonville just before 5am on April 22, 2012. Firefighters had to lead a man to safety from a top floor flat of the four-storey building.
KFRS fire safety officers carried out an investigation and revealed a number of deficiencies which were believed to have placed the residents of the flats in the building at significant risk from fire.
The fire alarm had failed and the building did not have a fire risk assessment until almost three years after Bridgeford & Co. Ltd took over management of the building. Their arrangements for inspecting and maintaining the fire safety measures in the building were also found to be inadequate.
KFRS’s senior fire safety officer, John Robertson, said: “The outcome of today’s case sends out a very clear message to those responsible for managing residential property. They must have a risk assessment and make sure that the fire safety measures in their buildings are kept in good working order so people’s lives are not put at risk. This case clearly demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that all buildings in Kent are safe and that where necessary, we will take action and prosecute those who fail to provide adequate fire safety arrangements.”
Mr Robertson added: “Whilst we provide guidance and advice to help those responsible for building management to ensure their properties are safe and they meet their legal responsibilities, unfortunately we still find unsafe buildings and poorly maintained facilities. Good fire safety can be achieved by undertaking a Fire Risk Assessment and implementing any findings and recommendations it makes.”
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Landlord prosecuted three times in one year
Cardiff Council has successfully prosecuted a private landlord three times in two years, for breaches of the Housing Act 2004 and failures to comply with the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Wales) Regulations 2006.
Gary Samuel is the owner and landlord of a property in a poor condition and had been served with an improvement notice back in 2012, requiring repairs and improvements to be carried out. He ignored the order and was fined £1,200 in that year.
“In spite of correspondence advising Mr Samuel of the requirement to comply with the legislation, his failure to do so led the council to prosecute him again in June 2014. At this further hearing, the Magistrates Court fined him £3,000 and he was ordered to pay costs of £200,” commented a council spokesman.
Mr Samuel was also served with a notice in April 2014 under Section 235, Housing Act, requiring him to submit documentation to the Council, including a current fire alarm commissioning or test and inspection certificate for the property, amongst other things.
“The council initiated legal action after Mr Samuel failed to comply with the notice and a hearing was held at Cardiff Magistrates Court in August. Mr Samuel failed to attend the hearing and in his absence was convicted and fined a further £200 for the offences. In addition, he was ordered to pay £200 towards the council’s costs as well as a £20 victim surcharge.”
Councillor Bob Derbyshire, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Regulatory Services added: “This was a particularly serious case where a rogue private landlord thought it acceptable to ignore the legislation that is in place to protect tenants. The council will continue to pursue this minority of landlords in the private sector in order to ensure that people are housed in conditions which do not pose a risk to their health or safety.”
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and 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.
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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