A landlord in Ilford, Essex, has been sentenced to four months in jail for continuing to rent out his property despite being told that it was “too dangerous to live in”.
Manmohan Sahib, 60, of Ilford was sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court after pleading guilty to three offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, including three breaches of a prohibition notice.
Fire officers described how Sahib knew his premises was not supposed to be occupied while a prohibition notice was in force but on re-inspection they found people living there, including his disabled brother and his carer, along with young children.
The London Fire Brigade fire inspectors had raised a series of serious safety concerns including, a lack of fire compartmentation between the commercial and residential parts of the building, issues relating to the maintenance and suitability of fire doors, lack of smoke alarms, and no emergency lighting in the fire escape route.
When quizzed, Sahib insisted the he was unaware residents had returned after being asked to vacate the property, claiming that they leave must have ‘broken in’.
He has now been sentenced to four months immediate imprisonment and 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.
London Fire Brigade’s assistant commissioner for fire safety, Dan Daly, said: “This landlord put lives at risk. The fact that the landlord went ahead with the occupation of the building despite being issued with a prohibition notice is truly shocking. Not only does it show a blatant disregard for fire safety, it put the lives of anyone living there at serious risk should a fire have broken out.
“The prison sentence handed down in this case should send a clear message that, while we will do everything we can to help building owners meet their fire safety responsibilities, if we find they are blatantly ignoring them, we will not hesitate to prosecute.”
In sentencing, judge Lafferty remarked: “Landlords who choose to rent out flats on upper floors to the public, are under a very high duty to ensure tenants are kept safe from the risks of fire. You were served with a prohibition notice. You ignored that. You called the London Fire Brigade and said you had remedied the deficiencies. That was a bare-faced lie. You had not. The tenants had to be removed with the assistance of the police but they returned. You sought to deceive the London Fire Brigade saying the tenants had copied keys and were squatters.
“In my judgment a custodial sentence is the only one that can be justified. I take the view that the London Fire Brigade is pursuing and performing a very important duty.”