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Suspended sentence after Fire Brigade prosecutes London landlord

A north London landlord who housed a family of five, including three children, in a cramped attic has been prosecuted by London Fire Brigade after admitting numerous fire safety offences.

Fire chiefs described the crowded house of multiple occupation in Wembley as a ‘potential death trap.’

Jan Ahmed who was the leaseholder of premises above a barber’s shop was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court after pleading guilty to 10 offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. 

He was handed 38 days in custody - suspended for six months - and ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £2,000 prosecution costs.

At the time of the offences in January 2015 the HMO comprised seven first floor rooms and a second floor attic. The attic and all but one of the first floor rooms were occupied by paying tenants, with three of the rooms being lived in by up to five people each. This included the converted attic which housed a family of five, including three children.

When they visited the property the brigade’s fire safety inspectors discovered numerous failings which would have put the occupants at risk of ‘death or serious injury’ in the event of a fire.

They found a poor loft conversion and a hole in the landing that could cause a fire to quickly spread, no fire alarm system or firefighting equipment.

There were no safe emergency exits from the second-floor loft room. Escape was via a steep and unstable bolt-together staircase and a trapdoor which didn’t have a proper handle fitted on the inside.

None of the bedroom doors were fire doors and there were gaps above two of the doors which would cause fire to spread and inhibit the ability of residents to escape.

In addition there was no emergency lighting to illuminate escape routes, the electrical mains switch box in the hall was not fire-protected and there was a large hole in the ceiling between the first floor landing and the loft area above.

Finally, there was no evidence of a fire risk assessment having taken place.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Andy Hearn said: “This building was a potential death trap. The crowded and cramped conditions combined with the woefully inadequate fire safety provision would have put the lives of those inside at serious risk if ever a fire had broken out.”

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