Landlord faces court for fire safety breach at HMO

Landlord faces court for fire safety breach at HMO

A Southend landlord faces prosecution for breaching fire safety laws.

Alfred Katona, 75, is accused of failing to properly respect fire safety procedures and maintenance standards at a former hotel he rented to four vulnerable tenants.

A fire exit was padlocked, with tenants given no keys, an exit was partially blocked, smoke alarms were faulty and fire extinguishers were not stored correctly, allege the court summons.

Electrical wires and light fittings were apparently loose, while wallpapers and carpets were torn and windows cracked. Water was also able to run onto electric fittings.

The landlord failed to provide any contact details in the lobby of the property, in case of emergency.

A council spokesman said: “The council is prosecuting Mr Katona for non-compliance with House of Multiple Occupation management regulations.

“The property is now empty and can only be re-let once the council is satisfied remedial work has been carried out.

“The tenants at the time were assisted by a number of council departments, including social care.”

A further nine properties let by Katona are under investigation.

The problem was highlighted by local newspaper the Southend Echo, which did an investigation.

Martin Terry, Southend Council Independent group leader, said: “Well done to the Echo for exposing this property.

“It also shows the council will take swift action once it knows these problems are out there.”

Mr Katona declined to comment on the allegations and is due to appear at Southend Magistrates’ Court later this month.

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.

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