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Massive fine for landlord exposing vulnerable tenants to fire risks

A landlord has been hit with a bill of almost £25,000 for allegedly exposing vulnerable tenants to serious fire risks in an HMO.

Step One (NW) Limited was handed a £20,000 fine by Liverpool magistrates for failing to comply with the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006.

The court heard that the property was a large HMO housing a wide range of vulnerable tenants. 


Liverpool council officers attended in March 2021 as the result of an anonymous complaint, and discovered that the property had 43 defective fire doors throughout the building, increasing the risk of fire spread.

The fire alarm sounders installed at the building failed to meet the required decibel level, meaning that tenants may not have heard an alarm in the event of a fire.

In addition, fire extinguishers at the property had out of date service records, some appearing to have had their last service as far back as 2016.

There were also issues regarding excessive use of intumescent foam which exceeded the permitted amount to be used and the cellar staircase not being adequately fire protected.

The council told the court that there had been a systemic failure to ensure the property was safe and adequately fire protected.

District Judge Healey noted that the defects at the property had “raised the risk” of fire spread and following guilty pleas on five counts from the company, imposed a fine of £20,000 plus costs of £4,747.61 and a victim surcharge of £190.

As a result of the prosecution, the council will undertake a review of the ‘fit and proper’ status of the licence-holder.


A council spokeswoman says: “This case reveals a shocking disregard for the safety of vulnerable tenants. The landlord was taking rent for people to live in unsafe conditions and I dread to think what could have happened if a fire had broken out in the property.

“We are determined to take action against landlords if they put tenants at risk, which is why we are also about to launch a new Landlord Licensing scheme which will give us the tools to identify and tackle private rented properties as well as HMOs.

“All of these measures form part of our determination to raise standards and improve the city’s neighbourhoods for residents.”

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    The main message here's AVOID VULNERABLE TENANTS.

    Is this what they want to happen?


    Agreed '' vulnerable'' tenants are more trouble than they are worth, leave them to councils and housing associations.

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    It had fire doors and a working fire alarm! It sounds like Liverpool are nit picking. It would be different if they did not have a working fire alarm and it had not been working for years . Few fire door can be compliant if you apply the rules about fire doors to the nth degree. The sound level on a fire alarm is just a guide. Most councils no longer require fire extinguishers as it's considered to put the occupant at risk .

    Further is fire a significant risk in HMOs ? and is the protection sufficient to protect people in the event of a fire? and the answer to both these questions is NO. Fire does not pose a great risk in a HMO and what is provided ie fire doors, fire alarms etc does not prevent death in the event of a fire it just slows down the spread . People who usually die in an HMO due to Fire do so by falling asleep smoking, the fire door is nothing more than a lid to the coffin. The only thing that works is fire sprinklers or fire suppressant systems which if the the over the top rules that apply to them were relaxed would be cheaper to fit than the current ineffectual passive fire protection. There's never been a death through fire in a fully sprinkler property. Pointless harmful rules being enforced by the Council and their officers to justify their political ambitions. The worst part about it is the Housing officers know that they are carrying out a pointless role.

    What causes harm in HMOs and all types of housing is cold. Over 30,000 people are said to die each year due to cold. The 30,000 total eclipses the 400 people who die due to fire each year. There is no requirement to provide central heating in a HMO only a fixed form of heating. I could go on !

    The problem the defendants have it would probably cost more to defend the case than the fine. If they had lost, the fine and the council's costs would probably be greater!

    If they want to get you they will and they called this justice!

    Jim Haliburton
    The HMO Daddy


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