Harrogate landlord fined after tenants forced to flee serious fire

A Harrogate landlord has been fined more than £8,000 after two of his tenants were forced to flee a serious fire at his property.

Thursday, 8th October 2015, 6:37 pm
Harrogate Magistrates Court. 311208ARpic14.

Mr Michael Hassall, landlord of 20 Scargill Road, pleaded guilty to two offences of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 at Harrogate Magistrates Court yesterday (October 7).

The Magistrates found that Mr Hassall failed to take general fire precautions and carry out a suitable and sufficient Fire Risk Assessment of the property following a fire on August 24.

Two tenants were forced to escape from the property after a fire broke out in a ground floor bedroom before quickly spreading to the hallway. One of the tennants was forced to escape from an upstairs window.

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Investigators found that there were no fire detectors fitted within the premises and that doors, fitted to rooms, were not to the required standard.

During sentencing the Magistrates said: “Even though there was confusion around whether the premises was a House in multiple Occupation (HMO), the defendant still had a duty of care and responsibility for the safety of tenants in that property.”

Two neighbours who attempted to put the fire out were taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.

Mr Hassall was fined a total of £8205.74, which included prosecution costs of £2085.74 and £120 victim surcharge.

Ms Karen Galloway prosecuting solicitor for the Fire Authority stated that: “This was an extremely serious case for which the Fire and Rescue Authority had to prosecute the person responsible for safety within the building. Those living at the address were placed at risk of death or serious injury owing to the inadequate fire safety measures in place. There is no doubt that had the Fire Authority not taken action the serious contraventions in this case would have continued unchecked”.

Station Manager Richard Hanley said: “It is disappointing that the Authority has had to prosecute yet another landlord who has put his tenants at risk of death or serious injury from fire.

“North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service will continue to work with other enforcement agencies in an attempt to improve safety standards. Many of the premises that we visit are well-managed and are conscientious about fire safety matters.

“However, some of the buildings which are brought to our attention because of fire incidents or complaints turn out to present serious fire safety concerns which endanger those living at, working or visiting the premises.”