Date Published 06 August 2018
In what is a landmark case, a landlord/agent has been sent to jail for not bothering to fit smoke alarms in his property, which led to two very young boys dying in a fire.
The Huddersfield landlord was held repsonsible for the death of the two children, aged two and three, for his failure to fit the alarms and the judge said his lack of action was of ‘significant cause' for the fatalities.
A TV's electrical fault in the boy's bedroom started the blaze in February 2016; unfortunately the toddlers' mother could not rescue them from the fire as it was far too strong. As the property had no smoke alarms it was adjudged that it almost certainly had an impact on the boys being rescued and possibly saved.
The landlord had 140 homes in Huddersfiled that he managed on behalf of private landlords under his property management company, and in return took 10% of the rent.
Originally he was charged with manslaughter but when pleading guilty in his trial to breaching health and safety law, the charges were dropped.
The West Yorkshire Police said after the trial that the prosecution was the first of its kind since the introduction of the rules and legislation in October 2015, which made it mandatory for all landlords to have at least one smoke alarm installed in all rental properties.
The children's mother said in court that she had asked the landlord ‘time after time' to install alarms in their rented home.
When sentencing the landlord, Mr Justice Males, said: "Your failure to fit smoke alarms was a significant cause of the children's deaths. Thus the harm caused by your failure could not have been more serious."
The boys' father and mother, said in a joint statement after the trial: "We do hope that this case highlights this important issue and for people to know their responsibilities as landlords or letting agents and to take appropriate action to ensure that any property they are responsible for has working smoke alarms. Such a simple check could have saved the lives of our boys and we want to ensure that this does not happen to anyone else."
The Deputy Chief Fire Officer of West Yorkshire Dave Walton, said: "Had there been working smoke alarms in this property, the outcome could have been very different and these brothers could have had a future to look forward to. As firefighters, the importance of having working smoke alarms is a message that we try and get over to the public day in and day out. This landmark case shows how vitally important it is that landlords and letting agents take their responsibilities seriously or the consequences do not bear thinking about."