A rogue landlord that rented out ‘a bed in a shed’ has been prosecuted for fire safety breaches.
Irshad Ibrahim was fined £25,000 for letting out the premises on Crusoe Road in Mitcham.
Incidentally, London Fire Brigade (LFB) was successful in its attempt to have £5,000 worth of rent confiscated from Mr Ibrahim, as it had been obtained in an unlawful manner.
He pleaded guilty to ten offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 on March 5th at Kingston Crown Court.
Investigations were carried out on the property, which was a single-storey industrial unit with five bedsits above, after neighbours complained.
It transpired many fire safety concerns were present, such as insufficient fire separation of the bedsits and just one escape route was provided.
Furthermore, there was a lack of emergency lighting, a fire risk assessment and any safety arrangements between the commercial and residential parts.
Residents were evacuated by LFB, who also issued a prohibition notice that stopped the building’s upper floor from being used for sleeping.
Nick Coombe from LFB’s fire safety regulation management team said:
“This verdict should serve as a stark warning to landlords who rent out unsafe, unsuitable living conditions to some of the capital’s most vulnerable people.
“Landlords have a clear responsibility under fire safety laws to ensure that people living and working in their premises are safe from the risk of fire.”
He added how if the brigade were to find property owners who were neglecting their duties, it wouldn’t hesitate to prosecute. The sentence issued in this case was a reflection of how seriously it took such matters, he said.
Chief executive officer at the National Landlords Association (NLA) Richard Lambert said it was imperative that landlords understood their responsibilities.
He commented how this case was “the result of a successful collaboration” between LFB, the local council and other enforcement agencies – an approach the NLA has considered the optimum way to remove criminal operators from the landlord community.
LFB said this prosecution emphasised how premises that were unsuitable to be rented were being used as accommodation in the capital.
The risk of fire is dramatically increased in ‘beds in sheds’ , as those living in them will may be more inclined to use more dangerous methods of lighting, cooking and heating. The sorts of locations often used for such properties can be disused pubs, garages or industrial units.
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.