London Fire Brigade

Wembley landlord prosecuted for renting out “death trap” attic accommodation

02 May 2017

A Wembley landlord who housed a family of five, including three children, in a cramped attic has been prosecuted by London Fire Brigade after admitting numerous fire safety offences.

Potential death trap

Fire chiefs described the crowded house of multiple occupation (HMO) on Ealing Road  as a ‘potential death trap.’

Jan Ahmed who was the leaseholder of premises above a barber’s shop was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on Friday, 21 April after pleading guilty to ten offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.  He  was handed  38 days in custody (suspended for six months) and ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £2,000 prosecution costs.

At the time of the offences in January 2015 the HMO comprised of seven first floor rooms and a second floor attic. The attic and all but one of the first floor rooms were occupied by paying tenants, with three of the rooms being lived in by up to five people each. This included the converted attic which housed a family of five, including three children.

Numerous fire safety failings

When they visited the property the Brigade’s fire safety inspectors discovered numerous fire safety failings which would have put the occupants at risk of ‘death or serious injury’ in the event of a fire.

They found:

• a poor loft conversion and a hole in the landing that could cause a fire to quickly spread
• no fire alarm system or firefighting equipment.
• no safe emergency exits  from the second-floor loft room. Escape was via a steep and unstable “ladder” type bolt-together staircase and a trapdoor which didn’t have a proper handle fitted on the inside.
• none of the bedroom doors were fire doors
• gaps above two of the doors which would cause fire to spread and inhibit the ability of residents to escape
• no emergency lighting  to illuminate escape routes
• that the electrical mains switch box in the hall was not fire protected and a large hole in the ceiling between the first floor landing and the loft area above.
• no evidence of a fire risk assessment

Woefully inadequate fire safety provision

Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Andy Hearn said: “This building was a potential death trap. The crowded and cramped conditions combined with the woefully inadequate fire safety provision would have put the lives of those inside at serious risk if ever a fire had broken out

“It’s the responsibility of landlords under fire safety law to ensure their tenants are safe from the risk of fire. If we find they are not taking those responsibilities seriously we won’t hesitate to prosecute.”

If you are a landlord, business owner or building owner you can find out more about the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order here.