Student flats were fire risk

The landlord of two houses converted to student flats has been fined for not having licences for them and breaching fire safety regulations.

Gavin Barry , aged 38 of North Mossley Hill Road pleaded guilty at Liverpool Magistrates Court to three breaches of management regulations aimed at protecting tenants from injury in the event of fire and was fined a total of £1,500 and ordered to pay costs of £1,820.

His company, Hugo James Ltd, also pleaded guilty to operating a House in Multiple Occupation and to for breaches of the management regulations and was fined £1,000 for the licensing offence and £2,000 for the management offences and ordered to pay £2,070 costs.

The Court heard that in September 2012 officers noticed a sign advertising student lets in front of a house in Jubilee Drive, Kensington. Checks of Council records showed that there was no current licence for the property nor any record of an application for a licence being received.

On inspection they found there were five students living in the four-storey property.

They found:

• The front door was fitted with a mortice lock which meant that the tenants could be trapped in the building in the event of fire.

• The door to the basement where the gas meter was housed was not an fire door

• There was no hand rail on the stair way into the basement. In the basement itself there was a green material covering the panel between the basement and the hallway which did not provide adequate fire resistance and there was an accumulation of waste and combustible materials on the floor of the basement.

• There was also damage to the ceiling exposing the wooden lathes many of which were broken which would mean that a fire in the basement would spread rapidly to the ground floor.

In November 2012 a complaint was received that there was an accumulation of waste on the drive way to the rear of Rutland Avenue , Sefton Park

A full inspection of the three-storey property and found there were six tenants living there.

They found that there was no heat detector fitted in the kitchen and the emergency light fitted to the ceilings of the entrance hall and the first floor landing were inoperative.

At the rear of the property the officers found an accumulation of waste from builders, pieces of wood and domestic rubbish. Ground floor windows were in a poor condition and were rotted.

On checking records the officers found that there was no record of a current licence for the property nor any record of an application being received.

When interviewed Mr Barry said that Jubilee Drive house had been let to only four students and that he was unaware that a fifth had moved in until applications were made for student exemptions for council tax. He added that he was unaware that Rutland Avenue property required a licence as he did not know that a basement containing gas or electric meters counted as floors for licensing purposes.

In sentencing District Judge Miriam Shelvey said that, while giving him credit for his previous good character, there were good reasons for these regulations as they were there for the protection of the tenant and he should take the necessary steps to ensure their safety.

Councillor Ann O’Byrne, cabinet member for housing, said: “You are 14 times more likely to die in a fire in licensable HMO than in a single family dwelling. The properties were let to students – some a long way from home – and it is important that these young people and their families, that they are housed in safe and fit accommodation. We want all young people who come to live and study in this city to be safe and secure in their homes”



Liverpool Waterfront