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Holiday let property owner placed guests at risk

11 March 2020

Mr Adrian Knott owner of a large £1.25million holiday let appeared before Exeter Crown Court on 9th March, having previously pleaded guilty to a number of serious fire safety deficiencies.

Mr Knott was fined £6,000 per offence, totaling £24,000 and ordered to pay £9,218 to the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (to recoup costs incurred) to be paid within 24 months. The court also issued him with a Community Order of 160 hours unpaid work (over 12 months) and that should he fail to uphold the requirements of the sentence he would return to court and sent to prison.

The charges were brought by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service in relation to Woodend Seaside Villa, Torquay which he owns and lets out for up to 29 people on Airbnb. The offences related to a number of serious failures identified by officers of Fire Service in July 2018. 

Mr Knott had claimed the premises was his family home and was not due to be used commercially by paying guests for several weeks. Mr Knott commissioned a professional fire risk assessment with the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. The outcome of which informed him that the risk in the event of fire was ‘intolerable’ and that the premises was not be used as a holiday let for paying guests until the risks were reduced.

Mr Knott assured the Fire Service that he would not be letting the premises until the works were complete stating he was 'fully aware of the issues at the property' and that he was ‘actioning these as a matter of urgency'. However, despite this, Mr Knott continued to take paying guests, exposing them to the ongoing risks.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service protection delivery manager Nick Jones said: “Mr Knott blatantly ignored the advice of the fire risk assessor and deliberately misled the fire service regarding the use of his premises. He chose to put profit before the safety of his guests. This decision could have had serious consequences had a fire occurred at the premises.”

In summing up at the Crown Court, the Judge said: “It was clear that your desire to make money rode roughshod over the need to keep people safe. It seems to me that given your background in property matters you should have been more aware. You thwarted the fire services efforts to inspect and continued letting the property for large sums of money to large groups of people.

"You allowed the continued use of the premises out of some 'misplaced loyalty' , I would suggest that is was more a misplaced loyalty to your bank account.”