Tenants were put at risk

Law gavel

A landlord left tenants at risk of fire – and without hot water after a gas supply was disconnected- Liverpool magistrates were told.

The court heard that a house in Wellfield Road, Walton, had no smoke detectors, accumulations of flammable rubbish and fire doors which did not fit properly.

Jeffrey Grant, aged 51, of Hall Road East, Crosby admitted 13 housing offences and was fined £1,300 and ordered to pay £2,290 costs.

In January, following a complaint by a tenant that the gas supply to the six- storey Victorian terraced house had been disconnected leaving him without hot water, an Environmental Health Officer carried out an inspection.

She found
• There were no mains wired smoke detectors anywhere in the building and no heat detector in the kitchen. 
• Fire doors were damaged and either ill-fitting or did not close properly and would not provide the 30 minutes protection to allow tenants to escape in the event of fire. 
• There were areas of damp on the walls throughout the ground floor, and there was no hot water to the sink or bath in the ground floor bathroom
• A large amount of accumulated rubbish including solvents, tyres and other flammable material , in the basement, posing a serious fire risk and the ceiling did not provide 30 minutes of fire resistance .There was no mains fire detector and the door to the basement was not a fire door. 
• The main gas intake meter had been removed and the pipework capped off which explained why there was no hot water.
• Stairs leading to the second floor and the second floor landing were strewn with rubbish and assorted goods ranging from beds and chairs to electrical items and pots of paint and food obstructing the free passageway on the stairs and landing leading to bedroom  and that access to that bedroom could not be gained because of it.

A further inspection was carried out a week late when similar problems were noted and it was found there was a leak to the water supply directly above the electrical distribution board in the basement posing a serious risk of fire and that there was a hole in the wall of the first floor mezzanine storage room which had been filled with combustible material and posed a serious fire risk. There were battery operated smoke detectors in three bedrooms which did not work and that there was a large accumulation of bikes, chairs ladders and other rubbish in the rear garden.

Centrica , the gas supplier, were asked about the decommissioning of the gas meter and said  that it was the result of tampering and an outstanding bill.

The environmental health officer attempted to contact the defendant regarding fire alarms and as she was unsuccessful she arranged for the fire service to fit battery operated smoke alarms as an interim measure.

In his defence Grant admitted that the management that he carried out was insufficient.  He admitted that he had mismanaged the property and that it had started about a year ago, he said that it wasn’t that he couldn’t care less but he had a lot of things going on. 

Councillor Ann O’Byrne, cabinet member for housing said: “It was clear to us that this property had been mismanaged for longer than a year, and although I appreciate that Mr Grant may have financial and personal problems, it is no excuse for putting people’s lives in danger. 

“It is extremely fortunate that there wasn’t a fire or the consequences could have been dire.  Our message is if you can’t manage your property, sell it or put it in the hands of someone who can manage it properly.  People have a right to expect the property they rent is safe”.