A management firm and corporate landlord are facing record fines after a ‘potentially lethal’ blaze took place in their London flat.
The £250,000 fine marks the largest ever in a fire safety prosecution case brought by London Fire Brigade in relation to a single private rental property. On top of the fine, the fire brigade was awarded full prosecution costs, amounting to £49,500.
Crownpark Investments Ltd, along with management firm City Estates, were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court after pleading guilty to three offences. The judge stated that the company and the landlord had been aware of the failings within the property but ‘put their heads in the sand’ rather than opting to do anything to correct its state. He argued that the building was ‘an accident waiting to happen.’
The two 19th century houses on Eccleston Square, Westminster, which had been converted into flats, saw fires break out during the early hours of the 21st of February 2011. Eight fire engines and around 60 firefighters were called out to tackle the blaze. Two people had to be rescued from the roof of the property, whilst four were rescued from the third floor and a further seven led to safety by fire crews.
Following the blaze, the Brigade’s fire safety inspectors discovered several fire safety failings within the property which could have posed serious risk to tenant safety in the event of a fire. The doors to individual flats offered inadequate protection to the escape route, whilst there was a lack of fire alarm or fire detection system within the flats or the buildings communal areas. Finally, there was no fire risk assessment in place for the building.
London Fire Brigade’s assistant commissioner for fire safety, Dan Daly, said: ‘These included the doors to the individual flats providing inadequate protection to the escape route in the event of a fire, no fire alarm or fire detection system inside the flats or communal areas of the building, and no fire risk assessment in place for the building. The landlord and management company showed utter contempt for the safety of their tenants when they so blatantly ignored the fire safety failures in the building. This was a potentially lethal fire and it was only thanks to the skill and bravery of the crews who rescued the13 residents trapped inside that nobody died or was seriously injured. The actions of the landlord and management company not only put the lives of the occupants at risk, they put the lives of those firefighters sent to tackle the blaze at risk.’
A fine of £100,000 was issued to corporate landlord Crownpark Investments Ltd, as well as £24,000 costs, whilst City Estates received a £150,000 fine and were forced to pay £25,000 costs