Why ignoring fire safety advice for landlords could land you in jail

A five-month jail sentence and a £100,000 penalty have been imposed on a private landlord because his greed made him put profit before tenants – but staying on the right side of the law can start from as little as £25. Fire and Safety Centre explores the circumstances, and the solution.

A litany of ignored fire safety advice has not only landed a landlord in prison but also presented him with a £100,000 bill for legal costs – which could have been avoided if he’d done what the law required of him under fire prevention legislation. The really sad part is that the fire and its consequences would have been much less severe with the help of a few simple precautions – starting with an investment of less than £25…

The story concerns a fire in two linked properties in Grimsby where up to 20 people escaped injury when a fire caught hold. The landlord was found guilty of failing to do a proper fire risk assessment, of not linking the fire alarm system in the two properties, of not having fire doors of a sufficient standard, and for a failure of the fire alarms.

The sentence handed down was intended, said judge Peter Kelson QC, to act as a fire safety warning to landlords. Deterrent sentences had to be passed in order to protect tenants, he said, because in this case it was mere good fortune that no-one had died.

Fire safety advice for landlords

The law gives landlords a series of responsibilities for tenants living in their properties. They’re to be found in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and after this landmark case landlords are being warned by Humberside Fire and Rescue Service to make sure fire safety measures in their premises are up to scratch.

After doing a fire risk assessment it‘s more than likely that you’ll need to get some basic fire protection equipment, such as this landlord’s pack, containing a fire extinguisher, fire blanket, and smoke alarm. Together they make up the sub-£25 solution we mentioned earlier.

Tenants can be further protected by ensuring that smoke alarms are installed in all the right places, and back that up by regularly making sure their batteries are installed and not flat. Fire Services across the country say that they find far too many smoke alarms disabled because people can’t be bothered to change flat batteries. It’s always worth making sure your tenants are reminded that the alarms are there for their safety.

Finally, if you, as a landlord, needed a further piece of cautionary advice for all this fire safety action, it’s worth remembering that more than half of teenagers charge their mobile phones in their beds and even under their pillows at night. The consequences have the potential to be as severe as smoking in bed. Need we say more?

The picture, from Humberside Fire and Rescue, shows the remains of a living room following the fire in the case described earlier in this article. For clear fire safety advice and top quality products, please visit our Advice Centre.