14 October 2010
A private sector landlord has been fined for breaching fire safety regulations and managing a ‘house of multiple occupation’ without a licence.
Mr Warwick Armsby-Ward pleaded guilty at Brighton Magistrates Court and was fined £2,000, plus £750 costs. It follows concerns raised by East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service on the safety of his building, which was being used for accommodation as well as a bar. It is a record fine for such a breach in the city.
The building, with Heist Bar on the ground floor, housed five tenants upstairs. Fire safety officers also discovered poorly protected escape routes and an inadequate fire alarm system.
The fire service served a prohibition notice under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 restricting residents from sleeping in the upstairs property until emergency work was completed. The work has since been carried out.
Since 2006 new rules made it an offence to operate larger HMOs without a licence.
Councillor Maria Caulfield, cabinet member for housing, said: “First and foremost the licensing scheme is there to protect tenants in the city. In the past HMOs have been criticised for having inadequate fire safety or lacking basic electrical checks.
“We will work with genuine new landlords who are not aware of the law but will prosecute those whose properties are dangerous or who might think that they can wait for the council to find them before applying to be licensed.”