Landlords have again sadly been hitting the headlines recently for taking dangerous shortcuts in relation to their fire safety precautions. The failure to install smoke/CO alarms, ensure that escape routes are clear at a property and Gas Boilers not being serviced, can be extremely costly for landlords, in more ways than one.
The government have of course been making big strides forward to penalise landlords who fail to install alarms with big fines. It was announced back in March by the Minister of State for Housing and Planning for Department for Communities and Local Government, Brandon Lewis, that landlords will be required by law to have installed smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties. The cost of failing to fulfil these legal obligations will be in the region of £5,000. A significant sum. Therefore a failure to “tick all the boxes” in terms of fire safety can result in bank balance-wiping fines, and in the worst case scenario, the lives of tenants being devastated by a landlord’s gross negligence.
Although the reason why landlords neglect to invest in adequate alarms and fire safety measures may not be clear to the vast majority of us, we can only assume that the main reason why landlords have avoided installing alarms is likely to be due to a naive “It won’t happen to me!” mind-set. It’s fair to say that fire safety isn’t usually top of the list of priorities for tenants either, who are initially focussed on the cost and décor/layout of a property rather than issues relating to safety. But it’s not just landlords that have had a fire break out in their property who have received a fine, as tenants are (quite rightly) reporting a landlord if the health and safety standards don’t meet the required standards for renting out property in the UK!
For example, a flat situated above an off licence in Tameside was found to have no fire alarms or fire doors, with the rear of the property blocked by propane cylinders (which of course are very combustible). Furthermore, roller shutters were used to secure the property at night, which risked trapping residents inside the property. Owner Ceyam Rahman received a fine of £6,000 in June 2015, plus was forced to pay £3,639 in costs. Elsewhere in the North West, Dilal Miah received a £2,000 fine and had to pay £3,070 for five offences relating to his flats in Hyde. Similarly to Mr Rahman, Mr Miah’s flats had no fire alarms or doors, blockages of escape routes, as well as a lack of emergency lighting.
A landlord in Coventry was slapped with a £3,350 fine after it was discovered that he was renting a house in the Canley area of the city to tenants without following basic fire safety measures. Another landlord in the city was forced to pay for the fire service costs of £7,436 after a fire had broken out at his property, which was thankfully discovered quickly by a tenant before it had a chance to spread. But following an investigation it was found that the owner was breaching eight fire safety regulations, as well as receiving an additional charge for obstructing a fire inspector.
These shocking news stories should be a timely warning to landlords to ensure that your properties have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms installed and your Gas Boiler is maintained fully and by a qualified Engineer. Ultimately, the health and safety of tenants is a fundamental requirement of being a landlord, so a failure to do this SHOULD result in a massive fine. Can you afford to take that risk? If you’re a landlord looking for advice on your legal obligations, speak to us at Precise Managed Services on 01527 503 333