A landlord has been fined £10,744 after an inspection highlighted a series of dangerous issues with his property.
The inspection on the two-storey house in Leamington Spa was prompted by a fire, which damaged the kitchen and risked causing extensive damage to the rest of the property. Although the tenants escaped unharmed, firefighters uncovered a number of problems that could have led to serious injuries or even death.
Landlord Manjit Chima had removed the two doors to the kitchen, meaning there was nothing to stop the fire from spreading to the hall, stairs and landing, as well as ground floor bedrooms. Moreover, the fire alarm did not work properly and Chima was unable to provide documents to show that it had ever been serviced. He was also asked for gas and electricity safety reports, but neither could he provide officials with these. Landlords have an obligation to maintain gas supplies, flues and appliances, and have a gas safety check carried out every 12 months. The certificates must be kept for at least two years and supplied to new tenants within 28 days of them moving in. Chima had also converted a garage and an outbuilding into bedsits, but had not had them fitted with fire-escape windows.
In many cases council officials will work with landlords to ensure that their properties are safe and well maintained, only taking matters to court if improvement orders are not followed. In this instance, Magistrates considered the offences so serious that they imposed a fine straight away. Peter Phillips, the district council’s housing and property services portfolio holder, explained, “The vast majority of landlords work well with the council and provide good quality accommodation. The situation at 82 Westlea Road could easily have had a tragic outcome. Council officers will not hesitate to prosecute where tenants’ health and safety is put at risk by landlords blatantly disregarding the law.”
Landlords in doubt about their responsibilities or who wish to undertake changes to their rental properties are urged to seek legal assistance first.
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