A landlord who illegally housed five young students in a property with more than a dozen potential fire hazards has been forced to pay out more than £9,000 in fines, costs and improvement works after action by Liverpool City Council.
Schoolteacher Brendan Fox admitted failing to get a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence for his property on Blantyre Road, Wavetree, at a hearing before Liverpool Magistrates’ Court.
The court heard that a local residents’ group first raised the alarm about the unlicensed rented property by contacting the city council’s Environmental Health team.
A subsequent council investigation revealed that Fox was operating the house without the necessary HMO certificate. Officers also found a catalogue of breaches in fire regulations, including: an inadequate fire alarm system, no proper fire doors and exposed floor joists. Most worryingly the inspection found exit doors which had been fitted with mortise locks which could hamper a speedy escape from the building in the event of a fire.
Magistrates described the offences as serious and believed they needed to use the case to send a strong message to other landlords in the city about the need to comply with the regulations.
Fox, of Elmsley Road, Mossley Hill, was fined £4,500 and ordered to pay £713 in costs and a £75 victim surcharge. The court also heard that he had spent a further £4,500 in bringing the fire hazard defects in the house up to scratch.
In addition, Fox’s tenants may now be eligible to claim up to nine months of refunded rent to compensate for the time they spent in the unsafe conditions.
Liverpool City Council Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Lynnie Hinnigan, said: “Clearly the standards at this property were unacceptable and the lack of adequate fire safety measure could have had tragic consequences.
“We would like to thank the local residents who raised the alarm about this property which gave our officers the opportunity to take action.
“This case shows that the city council will take strong action against those landlords who flout the rules and put their safety and wellbeing at risk.”
While city council Neighbourhood Select Committee member and local ward councillor Laura Robertson-Collins, added: “Great work by the council team and great work by the local residents group for reporting this. Council officers and councillors need such vigilant local residents supporting our work.”