London gets tough: landlord jailed over emergency lights

IN WHAT'S being widely seen as a ‘get tough’ approach to fire safety in London following last July’s fatal Grenfell Tower blaze, a landlord has been sentenced to four months in prison over a lack of emergency lighting and other measures.

Manmohan Sahib had received warnings from London Fire Brigade that his property – 361 Ilford High Street, Essex – was ‘too dangerous to live in’. Inspectors found no emergency lighting in the fire escape route as well as a lack of smoke alarms and compartmentation between the commercial and residential parts of the building. Fire doors were unsuitable.

A prohibition notice meant the building should have have been unoccupied but a follow-up inspection found people living there, including his disabled brother and his carer. There also appeared to be young children living at the premises.

Sahib claimed he was unaware residents had returned after being asked to leave and that they must have ‘broken in’. He was sentenced to four months immediate imprisonment and ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £23,076.  A confiscation order of £8,400, relating to income received while the premises were prohibited, was also imposed. 

Sahib was sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday after pleading guilty to three offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, including three breaches of a prohibition notice.

Sentencing Sahib, his Honour Judge Lafferty told Snaresbrook Crown Court: ‘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'. Picture: Matt Brown 2017 FlickrMedia Commons

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.’

In sentencing, His Honour Judge Lafferty told Sahib: ‘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.’

 

  • The Emergency Lighting Conference 2018 will focus on the requirements and responsibilities in social housing and student accommodation. It takes place in the Cavendish Conference Centre in London on Tuesday 22 May 2018 and is free to those responsible for emergency lighting estates and installations. For more information and to register, click HERE.

 

 

Main pic courtesy Google Maps 2017