A PRIVATE LANDLORD has been fined a record £400,000 over the lack of emergency lighting, faulty standard lighting with a risk of electrocution and other breaches of fire and health and safety legislation.
Tenants at the properties in Lincoln, England, had to live in ‘appalling conditions’.
It is believed to be one of the biggest financial penalties ever handed out for an individual rogue landlord case in Britain.
There was no emergency lighting in communal areas or the stairwell, and the standard lighting throughout the ground, first and second floor staircases and landings did not work when tested, which when combined with the lack of secondary lighting, exposed the occupants to a serious risk of injury. The first floor flat had a risk of electrocution from a light.
The City of Lincoln Council took Bijan Keshmiri of Wragby Road, Lincoln to Lincoln Magistrates’ Court where the judge ordered him to pay £404,886.90 in fines and costs for a total of 28 offences in respect of four self-contained flats on Rosemary Lane and a property converted into two self-contained flats on Spa Buildings.
Keshmiri used the flats as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) to accommodate twelve tenants in the building on Rosemary Lane and six at the property on Spa Buildings, all of whom were East Timorese in origin.
Councillor Ric Metcalfe, leader of City of Lincoln Council, said: ‘This prosecution sends out a clear signal that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated in our city.
‘It’s pleasing to see justice has been served against this offender who has, time and time again, exploited his tenants by making them live in appalling conditions, surrounded by many fire and health hazards.
‘Many landlords in Lincoln offer properties of a high standard, but to those who don’t, we hope that a fine of this scale will deter them from putting their tenants in such danger.
‘I would like to thank the legal and private housing teams at City of Lincoln Council for all of their hard work on this case and in ensuring such a significant outcome.’
The court heard that the first building on Rosemary Lane, which was converted into four flats, had several breaches of fire safety requirements including broken smoke detectors, inappropriate locks on fire exits, poorly made repairs which could increase the spread of fire and lack of fire separation and protection between flats.
Living spaces were rendered not cleanable due to years of neglect and the first floor flat had a risk of electrocution from a light.
There were several instances of windows with low sills having broken latches or no opening restrictors on the top floor flats, causing ventilation to be uncontrolled and a risk of an occupant falling from a window.
On the third floor flat, a hot water supply tank was not sealed with a lid, exposing the occupants to the risk of vermin, insects and infectious organisms entering the water, with the most dangerous being Legionella bacteria.
The second property on Spa Buildings had doors sealed shut preventing fire exits and a lack of fire separation, no smoke alarms in the ground floor flat and no fire blanket in the kitchen. Black mould was prevalent throughout the property, creating a serious health risk for the occupants.
Cllr Donald Nannestad, Portfolio Holder for Quality Housing at City of Lincoln Council, said: ‘We take the safety of our residents very seriously, and this court ruling shows that there’s no place to hide for rogue landlords in Lincoln.
‘Lincoln has a reputation as a city that is safe and welcoming for its residents and the council will continue to do everything it can to ensure all landlords are meeting the high standards that both we and the tenants expect.
‘We have a trusted landlord scheme operating in the city and advise all landlords to sign up so that they can have an official stamp of approval from their local authority.’
Upon sentencing, magistrates told the defendant: ‘Mr Keshmiri, we are concerned that you have owned these properties for several years and they are a fire hazard.
‘Given your history, your portfolio of properties and the length of time that you have managed them, this is of the utmost seriousness.
‘The offences were so serious that the fine should act as a deterrent to other rogue landlords’.
Earlier this month private landlord Yordan Kaloyanov of Millhouse Rise, Immingham, North East Lincolnshire was fined £1,380 over an absence of emergency lighting at his property and other offences.
In January landlord Manmohan Sahib was jailed for four months in prison over a lack of emergency lighting and other measures at his property at 361 Ilford High Street, Essex. He was also 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.
In the same month, another landlord, Devinder Punian, was fined almost £19,000 over breaches to fire safety – including defective emergency lighting – at a property in Clarendon Avenue, Leamington Spa.
In June last year, former hotelier Amandeep Sandhu was sent to prison for eight months after admitting that his establishment, Cutlers Hotel in Sheffield, lacked adequate emergency lighting and other fire safety equipment.
In September, Birmingham barrister Lewis Perry was fined almost £5,000 over the lack of emergency lighting and other fire safety equipment at a rental property in Hunton Road, Erdington, Birmingham.
The prosecutions are being widely seen as a ‘get tough’ approach to fire safety following last June’s fatal Grenfell Tower blaze.
- Lux’s next free-to-attend Emergency Lighting Conference takes place in the Escape Zone at the LuxLive 2018 exhibition. The show takes place on Wednesday 14 November and Thursday 15 November 2018 at ExCeL London. Entry is free if you pre-register HERE.
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