Firm admits safety breaches at house.

An international service company has admitted breaches of safety regulations at an unlicensed property it operated.

Serco Ltd of Bartley Wood Business Park, Bartley Way Hook, Hampshire pleaded guilty at Liverpool Magistrates Court to operating a house in multiple occupation without a licence and five breaches of the management regulations.

The court was told that in April 2013 officers visited a three storey property in  Cedardale Road Walton. It had seven bedrooms with tenants sharing the kitchen, bathroom and toilet facilities. 

Officers found that the fire doors of many of the rooms had excessive gaps between the top of the door and frame and would not protect the occupant from smoke or spread of flames in the event of a fire.  

They also found that there were two fridge/freezers immediately behind the kitchen door preventing it from opening fully and obstructing the means of escape. The kitchen cupboard which housed the kitchen sink was in a poor state of repair.

A check of records showed that the property was not licensed.

In sentencing District Judge Wendy Lloyd said that Serco are a big firm with massive resources and had left vulnerable people living in unsafe conditions.  While she accepted that they had taken remedial action it could not take away from the fact that they had left people in danger.  They were fined £5,000 for not having a licence and £1,000 on four breaches relating to fire hazards and £300 for a broken sink – a total of £9,300. They were also ordered to pay costs of £1,015.

Councillor Ann O’Byrne, cabinet member for housing said “I find it shocking that an international company like Serco with all its resources would leave vulnerable people living in dangerous conditions like these.  It does show, however, how essential licensing of this type of property is and how committed the council is in ensuring the safety of the vulnerable of our city with strong enforcement action.”