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A former buy to let landlord has been fined £20,000 for risking the lives of his tenants after a rental property fire broke out last year.
Terry Mills, 62, placed the lives of his five tenants at risk after a fire broke out and tore through his rental property in Worthing, West Sussex. The rogue landlord admitted that he had a ‘high level’ of culpability for the blaze due to his failure to replace a faulty fire alarm in the property.
Brighton Magistrates Court was told that two people became trapped upstairs when the property fire broke out in the three-story Victorian house which had been converted into flats. Although the residents escaped without injury, one was taken to hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.
The court was told that the fire was caused by a cooking surface being left unattended. Chris Chatterton, defending Mills, argued that the cause was therefore ‘through no fault of Mr Mills.’
Prosecutor Michael Stoneham said: ‘West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service received a phone call to attend a fire in Portland Road. The watch manager noticed smoke issuing from the building and four of the residents were stood outside the property. The purpose of sentencing in this type of case is to protect the safety of individuals living in such premises’
District judge Tessa Szagun added: ‘[The fire] was in the process of spreading to the loft. It was ascertained that there were two people trapped inside on the second floor of the property due to the stairs being smoke logged.’
When sentencing the landlord, district judge Tessa Szagun said: ‘The purpose of sentencing in this type of case is to protect the safety of individuals living in such premises by ensuring that there is no financial gain by any person cutting corners. [There is] also a necessity to deter others from doing so.’
Due to his guilty plea, Mills’ £20,000 fine was reduced from an initial penalty of £30,000. However, he was also ordered to pay £1,743.47 costs to West Sussex County Council.