Ilford landlord imprisoned for breaching fire safety rules

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018 - London Fire Brigade

An Ilford landlord has received a prison sentence for renting out a property in breach of a prohibition order after being told by London Fire Brigade it was too dangerous for anyone to live there.

Mr Manmohan Sahib (60) of Ilford, Essex was sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday 15 December after pleading guilty to three offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, including three breaches of a prohibition notice.

London Fire Brigade fire inspectors had raised a series of serious safety concerns including:

  • 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
  • No emergency lighting in the fire escape route

Fire officers described how Mr Sahib knew his premises were 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. There also appeared to be young children living at the premises.

However, Mr Sahib claimed he was unaware residents had returned after being asked to leave and that they must have ‘broken in’. He was 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.

Blatant disregard for fire safety

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, His Honour 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.

Landlords in the London Borough of Redbridge are also being reminded that thousands of rented properties in the borough need licensing, with more information available here.

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