Landlord Fined £20,000 after Property Fire - Could Have been More

Date Published 20 August 2018

An ex -buy to let landlord has been ordered to pay a fine of £20,000 as he nearly put his tenant's lives at risk after his property burst into flames.

The former landlord was liable for the near fatalities of five tenants when the fire started in his Worthing property that nearly became a blazing inferno. In court he acknowledged that he had a ‘high level' of responsibility for the blaze for not replacing the property's broken fire alarm.

The presiding judge at Brighton Magistrates Court heard that two of the tenants were trapped upstairs when the three -storey property became engulfed by smoke. Fortunately all of the tenants were not injured as only one resident was admitted to hospital with smoke inhalation.

The fire broke out because a cooking surface was left unattended and the defendant's solicitor told the court, that the cause of the fire was ‘through no fault of Mr Mills.'

Prosecutor Michael Stoneham said: "West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service received a phone call to attend a fire in Portland Road. The watch manager noticed smoke issuing from the building and four of the residents were stood outside the property. The purpose of sentencing in this type of case is to protect the safety of individuals living in such premises."

District judge Tessa Szagun commented: "The fire was in the process of spreading to the loft. It was ascertained that there were two people trapped inside on the second floor of the property due to the stairs being smoke logged."

Upon sentencing the guilty landlord, the district judge said: "The purpose of sentencing in this type of case is to protect the safety of individuals living in such premises by ensuring that there is no financial gain by any person cutting corners. There is also a necessity to deter others from doing so."

As the landlord had pleaded guilty he was given a £20,000 fine instead of the original £30,000 penalty, he was also ordered to pay West Sussex Council's costs of £1,743.47.