Landlord Fine: Fire Failure

A landlord who admitted serious fire safety breaches in his rented office block has been fined £50,000 by Luton Magistrates Court.

After last week’s news that a landlord is facing a £5,000 fine because their agent missed the deposit protection deadline, there is another fine being handed down in Luton.

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Sadly, this was no administrative error, as a fire risk assessment had not been reviewed at Broadway House in Bedford since December 2015, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service discovered. 

The Service also found other failings in an audit of the multi-storey block in June 2019 including:

  • Missing steps in the external fire escape
  • Numerous fire doors and the fire alarm system in poor state of repair
  • Inadequate fire exit signs and fire action notices. 
  • No evidence that the firefighting equipment, fire alarm and emergency lighting systems had been maintained.

The owners, Mr and Mrs Lusty, were given two months to carry out repairs, but subsequent check-up visits revealed that nothing had been done except the provision of new firefighting equipment.

Fire safety failings

Luton Magistrates Court heard that these failings put people at risk of serious injury or death in the event of a fire and so imposed a fine of £10,000 for each of the four offences and ordered the couple to pay full costs of £10,525.

Chief Fire Officer Andrew Hopkinson says the prosecution sends out a clear message to landlords that it is prepared to take enforcement action if they did not comply with the required fire safety regulations: 

This individual didn’t comply with the law and left their tenants at serious risk by affecting the ability of the occupants to safely escape should a fire occur. We will look to provide support and advice where required but if people are put at risk then we will not hesitate in taking further action.

Fire safety for residential landlords 

While this was a commercial property and the rules are a little different, many commercial landlords also have residential properties available for rent. You have a responsibility to ensure that your tenant is safe in your property, which is why there are many safety checks to keep on top of, most of which are designed to ensure your tenants’ safety in your property. 

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Fire specific safety includes:

  • Annual Gas Safety checks. It won’t come as any surprise that Gas Safety inspections are designed to prevent fire, as well as dangerous leaks. This is a legal requirement that has to be undertaken every year. Use our free Document Storage tool to keep your certification safe and alert you when it’s due to expire
  • EICRs updated every 5 years. Fires can also start because of electrical faults, which is why having your electrics checked every 5 years is a legal requirement
  • Fire alarm checks. Your tenants are responsible for updating the batteries in the alarms once they move in, but you should make sure that the alarms are in good working order before they move in. Film yourself doing this check as proof that it was done
  • Fire safe furnishings. If you rent your property furnished, make sure that all of the furniture provided is fire safe
  • Additional safety. If you have a HMO, there are more requirements needed, from marked fire exits to fire-fighting equipment. These aren’t legal requirements in non-HMO rentals, but you may want to offer a little more security to your tenants, so you could consider including a fire blanket or extinguisher – anything like this that you do include should have a full how-to guide included so your tenants know how to use them

Make sure that you also have Home Emergency Insurance, so that if there is an accident that leads to fire you have the cover to fix it.

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