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Jail and £100,000 bill after 'personal wealth put before tenant safety'

A private landlord has been jailed after being accused by a judge of "cutting corners" and deliberately putting his "wealth" before the "safety of tenants".

Keith Newsum was told he was "wholly money-orientated" and "woefully inadequate" in his duties, with only good fortune preventing a fatality in a serious fire at one of his properties. 

The Grimsby Telegraph reports that Newsum admitted failing to have a sufficient fire risk assessment, failing to take general fire precautions and failing to have premises equipped with appropriate fire detectors and alarms. He also admitted failing to provide self-closing fire doors and failing to ensure fire doors were not wedged open.

He was jailed for five months and was ordered to pay £100,000 costs and £4,200 compensation to tenants. 

"You put your wealth before your tenants' welfare. You did not carry out fire assessments. You never took advice from a fire safety expert. You did it all yourself. You put wealth before welfare. You were corner-cutting, just as you were with electrical work” Newsum was told by the judge.

A statement given to the newspaper by the chairman of the Humber Landlords Association, Guy Piggott, said it was “regretful” that a potential loss of life had been required to highlight the regulations that govern private letting.

"During 2014/15 Humber Landlords Association arranged several courses on Housing Health and Safety Rating System and more than 20 members passed a field assessment to prove competency. This qualification enables them to assess and manage the risks not only within their own properties but also to assist other members with theirs. During 2016 the focus turned to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and a number of members attended a course in that covered Management Regulations and Fire Awareness, once again raising awareness amongst members of some of the issues surrounding HMOs” says the association’s statement.

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