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Tuesday, 25 June

Game, Set and Match as Landlords Get Record Fine

Friday may 26 saw crews called to fire in hedgerow at Wimbledon Tennis Club

Four fire engines and 21 firefighters and officers went to a practice court area of the All England Tennis and Croquet Club on Church Road in Wimbledon.

The fire damaged around one tonne of mixed building materials, around 20 metres of hedgerow and a small section of a temporary marquee.

It took just under an hour to put the fire out.

 

Record fine for landlord over fire safety failures

On the previous day (Thursday 25) a corporate landlord and its management company were hit with a record £250,000 fine  following a ‘potentially lethal’ flat blaze in Westminster which saw 13 people rescued by firefighters.

The fine is the biggest financial penalty handed down in a fire safety prosecution case brought by London Fire Brigade relating to a single privately rented property. In addition to the fine the Brigade was awarded full prosecution costs of £49,500.

Property owner Crownpark Investments Ltd along with City Estates, which managed the six floor terraced house conversion were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court after pleading guilty to three offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

 

Accident waiting to happen

Sentencing the defendants, His Honour Judge Griffiths said the landlord and management company had been aware of the fire safety failings within the property but reacted 'by putting their heads in the sand'. He also added the building was an 'accident waiting to happen'.

Fire broke out at the two 19th century houses on Eccleston Square on 21 February 2011. The two houses had been converted into flats.

Eight fire engines and around 60 firefighters were called to the blaze which ripped through the building and left its second, third and fourth floors badly damaged. Two people had to be rescued from the roof of the premises, four were rescued from the third floor and a further seven were led to safety out of the property by our fire crews.

 

Numerous fire safety failings

Following the fire, 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. These included:

  • The doors to the individual flats provided inadequate protection to the escape route in the event of a fire.
  • There was no fire alarm or fire detection system inside the flats or communal areas of the building.
  • There was no fire risk assessment in place for the building.

 

‘Utter contempt’ for tenants' safety

Following the court case the Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Dan Daly said: “The landlord and management company showed utter contempt for the safety of their tenants when they so blatantly ignored the fire safety failures in the building.  Hopefully the size of the fine handed down in this case will send a strong message to other private landlords who ignore their fire safety responsibilities in such a brazen way.

 “The actions of the landlord and management company not only put the lives of the property’s occupants at risk they put the  lives of those firefighters sent to tackle the blaze at risk.”

 

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

 

List of charges and penalties

Crownpark Investments Ltd received a £100,000 fine and were ordered to pay £24,000 costs as follows:

  • Failing to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment - £80,000
  • Failing to equip the premises with adequate fire detection - £10,000.
  • Failing to ensure persons could evacuate the premises safely - £10,000.

City Estates  received £150,000 fine and were ordered to pay £25,500 costs as follows:

  • Failing to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment - £120,000
  • Failing to equip the premises with adequate fire detection - £15,000.
  • Failing to ensure persons could evacuate the premises safely - £15,000.

 

Mayfair - fire in flat above shop

Tuesday May 30 saw six fire engines and 35 firefighters and officers called to a fire at a block flats above a shop in Mount Street in one of London's most expensive areas - Mayfair.

Part of a third floor flat and part of the flat roof at third floor level were damaged by fire. it took about an hour-and-a-half to extinguish the blaze.

The cause of the fire is believed to be accidental and due to a fault within a consumer unit.

Picture: Main - The Wimbledon fire. Below - a landlord has received a record fine for this fire; and the latest flat fire -above a commercial premises in Mayfair

 

 

Article written by Brian Shillibeer

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