A council’s intervention has stopped a landlord forcing his private tenants to use an external staircase to enter their home - even though there is a street-level door they could have used.
Liaqat Sher Ali, from Bristol, was prosecuted by South Gloucestershire council for failing to comply with an Improvement Notice, which is connected to a first floor flat he lets out.
The issue was identified when council officers were told of the poor condition of the external metal steps at the rear of the flat, which is located above a dry cleaning store.
An inspection by council officers found a number of defects including a lack of fixed heating with portable heaters in use, no smoke detectors, dangerous modifications to the electrics, poorly constructed and unguarded steps at the rear, a badly fitted external door to the bathroom and cracked, single glazed windows.
It was also established that the landlord was expecting the tenants to use the rear entrance at the top of the metal steps which opens directly into the bathroom as the main entrance into the flat. The tenants had been told by the landlord that this is the entrance they should use for the flat even though there is a front entrance which is adjacent to the door to the dry cleaning business below.
The landlord discouraged the tenants from using the front entrance to the flat as he did not want customers of their dry cleaning business to see them coming and going.
Following the involvement of council officers the tenants were permitted by the landlord to use the front entrance.
An assessment using the Housing, Health & Safety Rating System confirmed that there were Category 1 hazards relating to excess cold, structural collapse and falling elements, and falling between levels, along with Category 2 hazards relating to fire and electrical hazards.
An Improvement Notice was served requiring Ali to carry out work to rectify the identified issues; however following service of the notice, the work was never satisfactorily completed and in the meantime the existing tenants moved out.
The council says it’s working to ensure the work is completed before the property is re-let.
Ali was found guilty of failing to comply with the Improvement Notice and was ordered to pay a total of £2,697, comprising a £1,173 fine and £1,407 in costs awarded to the council, plus a victim surcharge of £117.