A management firm and corporate landlord have been hit with a £250,000 fine after a “potentially lethal” flat blaze in London - it’s the biggest fine ever in a fire safety prosecution case brought by London Fire Brigade relating to a single privately rented property.
In addition to the fine the brigade was awarded full prosecution costs of £49,500.
The corporate landlord, Crownpark Investments Ltd, along with management firm City Estates, which managed a six floor terraced house conversion, were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court after pleading guilty to three offences.
Sentencing the defendants, the judge said the company and the landlord had been aware of the failings within the property but reacted “ by putting their heads in the sand”.
He also added the building was an “accident waiting to happen.”
Fire broke out at the two 19th century houses on Eccleston Square, Westminster, which had been converted into flats, during the early hours of February 21 2011.
Eight fire engines and around 60 firefighters were called to the blaze which ripped through the building and left its second, third and fourth floors badly damaged. Two people had to be rescued from the roof of the premises, four were rescued from the third floor and a further seven were led to safety out of the property by fire crews.
Following the fire, the Brigade’s fire safety inspectors discovered numerous fire safety failings which would have put the occupants at risk of ‘death or serious injury’ in the event of a fire.
These included the doors to the individual flats providing inadequate protection to the escape route in the event of a fire, no fire alarm or fire detection system inside the flats or communal areas of the building, and no fire risk assessment in place for the building.
“The landlord and management company showed utter contempt for the safety of their tenants when they so blatantly ignored the fire safety failures in the building. This was a potentially lethal fire and it was only thanks to the skill and bravery of the crews who rescued the13 residents trapped inside that nobody died or was seriously injured” says London Fire Brigade’s sssistant commissioner for fire safety Dan Daly.
“The actions of the landlord and management company not only put the lives of the occupants at risk, they put the lives of those firefighters sent to tackle the blaze at risk.”
Crownpark Investments Ltd received a £100,000 fine and were ordered to pay £24,000 costs. City Estates received £150,000 fine and were ordered to pay £25,500 costs.