A St Helens landlord is facing significant fines after subjecting his tenants to ‘miserable living conditions’ due to fire safety hazards.
Darshan Sidhu, 55, was ordered to pay over £5,000 after fire escapes in his House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) were found to be obstructed and poorly maintained. The landlord pleaded guilty by post at Liverpool, Knowsley and St Helens Magistrates’ Court for failing to comply with Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) regulations at his Bridge Street property.
The district judge informed the court that the local authority ‘could not have been any clearer’ in informing Sidhu of the work required for him to maintain the HMO. The offence was categorised as one of high risk given the problems that would have been faced by tenants escaping the property in the case of a fire, whilst the ‘miserable living conditions’ in the property further added to the offence.
The judge also stated that this was a commercial enterprise, with Sidhu having gleaned considerable profit from the HMO. The offence was therefore also defined as one of high culpability due to said commercial profit.
Sidhu was ordered to pay a total of £5,032. The figure was comprised of a fine, costs and victim surcharge.
St Helens Council’s strategic director of people services, Mike Wyatt, commented on the case: ‘The majority of St Helens landlords are responsible and provide good quality and safe accommodation. Unfortunately, as in this case, not all landlords follow their example and the accommodation they provide is extremely poor and hazardous to the health and wellbeing of tenants. The council enforces the law to make sure tenant’s health and safety welfare is protected, and will take formal action against landlords who don’t comply. I would encourage landlords to contact the council to seek any advice and ensure compliance with legal requirements.’