A letting agency specialising in student accommodation in Nottingham city centre and its director have admitted a series of breaches of fire safety regulations - ending up with a huge fine and a suspended prison sentence.
Nottingham Student Lettings Limited and its sole director, Robert Singh, have pleaded guilty to five offences relating to accommodation in the city's Castle Gate.
Nottingham Student Lettings Limited was fined £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £40,000; Singh was sentenced to three months imprisonment suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs.
The judge said if a fire had occurred in the building, death was not simply highly probable, but an “inevitability”.
The offences included failing to comply with a Prohibition Notice issued by Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, and failing to comply with an Enforcement Notice.
The Court heard that, despite being given an extended compliance period, Singh had failed to provide a suitable and sufficient Fire Risk Assessment for the premises, had not provided adequate means of escape, fire detection or emergency lighting, and had failed to provide the appropriate fire safety training for his staff.
Fire Protection Officers from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service first visited the premises in 2013 and found a number fire safety breaches, including a void over four floors where a staircase should have been. Smoke alarms were capped off, electrical wiring was exposed, and the only way into and out of the building was via a staircase with an industrial laundry on one of its landings.
At the time, 23 students were resident in the east wing of the property, which was subject to the Prohibition Notice, with space for up to 133 residents across the whole building.
Station Manager Tom Clark, of Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service's Fire Protection Investigation Team, says: "Not only did Mr Singh put the young people living at his property at serious risk in the event of a fire, he refused to follow the advice of Fire Inspection Officers in how he could make the appropriate improvements to remove the risks, and meet current fire safety legislation.”