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Landlord pleads guilty to 38 separate safety charges

05 September 2017

EAST SUSSEX Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) is welcoming the successful prosecution of a landlord, who will now have to pay nearly £23,000 in fines and costs after fire safety breaches.

ESFRS visited a property on Charles Road in St Leonards on 5 January 2017, after being called in by Sussex Police concerned about fire safety. The property is an end of terrace building comprising of flats situated over ground and four upper floors with a separate lower ground floor. It is classed as a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO). 

The fire safety inspector found a number of serious problems including a storage room containing a petrol grass strimmer, petrol can, dishwasher and other general items. These all could have posed a risk if there was a fire, causing the entrance hall and single stair to flats above to become impassable from heat and smoke. Fire extinguishers provided in the commonways had not been tested since 2002 and there was no fire alarm present or emergency lighting installed.  

ESFRS contacted Hastings Borough Council Housing and worked with them to provide evidence and witnesses as part of their prosecution against the property owner Thomas Wallace. ESFRS also immediately installed interim smoke detection and reduced the risk of fire, so that those living there were safe and didn’t have to be moved to a new home.

Wallace appeared at Hastings Magistrates’ Court on 1 September and pleaded guilty to 38 sperate charges and was given an overall fine of £19,000 plus costs £3,564.96.

Speaking after the hearing, ESFRS deputy chief fire officer Mark Andrews said: “The issues in this property were so serious we believed that the lives of those living there were in danger if there was a fire. It is simply not acceptable. Landlords, owners and managers must do more to ensure that the properties they are responsible for are safe, and ensure information on fire safety is passed on to residents so they know what to do in case of an emergency.”