An Ilford landlord was handed a prison sentence for continuing to let a property that he had been warned was too dangerous for human habitation following a prosecution by the London Fire Brigade.
Essex landlord Mr Manmohan Sahib, 60, was sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court after pleading guilty to three offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This included three breaches of a prohibition notice.
Upon inspection, London Fire Brigade fire inspectors had noted a range of serious safety concerns. These included a lack of fire compartmentation between the building’s commercial and residential parts. There were also issues relating to the maintenance and suitability of the doors, along with a lack of emergency lighting in the fire escape route. Finally, the property did not contain any smoke alarms, putting tenants at serious risk.
According to fire officers, Mr Sahib was aware that his property was not supposed to be occupied whilst the prohibition notice was in force. However, a re-inspection revealed people living there including his disabled brother and a carer. It also looked as though young children were residing in the property.
Mr Sahib claimed he was unaware residents had returned after being asked to leave and argued that they must have ‘broken in’. He was sentenced to four months immediate in prison and was told to pay full prosecution costs of £23,076. A confiscation order amounting to £8,400 was also imposed, relating to the income gained from the property whilst it was being illegally let.
London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Dan Daly said: ‘This landlord put lives at risk. The fact that the landlord went ahead with the occupation of the building despite being issued with a prohibition notice is truly shocking. Not only does it show a blatant disregard for fire safety, it put the lives of anyone living there at serious risk should a fire have broken out. The prison sentence handed down in this case should send a clear message that, while we will do everything we can to help building owners meet their fire safety responsibilities, if we find they are blatantly ignoring them, we will not hesitate to prosecute.’
When sentencing, His Honour Judge Lafferty said: ‘Landlords who choose to rent out flats on upper floors to the public, are under a very high duty to ensure tenants are kept safe from the risks of fire. You were served with a prohibition notice. You ignored that. You called the London Fire Brigade and said you had remedied the deficiencies. That was a bare-faced lie. You had not. The tenants had to be removed with the assistance of the police but they returned. You sought to deceive the London Fire Brigade saying the tenants had copied keys and were squatters. In my judgment a custodial sentence is the only one that can be justified. I take the view that the London Fire Brigade is pursuing and performing a very important duty.’