A London property managing agent has been ordered to pay more than £80,000 for safety failings which “exposed a potentially large number of people to risk of death or serious injury from fire”.
London Fire Brigade inspectors found serious fire safety defects during two visits to a five-storey building in Islington which is managed by Eurolets (UK) Limited.
An Enforcement Notice requiring the company to address the concerns was issued following a visit in 2016, which was subsequently sufficiently complied with. However, a later visit then found similar defects to the previous inspection.
The building consists of more than 40 self-contained flats let out to tenants and the inspections revealed deficiencies including combustible material near the entrance to the premises; lack of fire extinguishers and signage; doors wedged open; holes within the walls and a non-functioning fire alarm.
Eurolets was charged with 10 separate offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order and the company entered guilty pleas to all charges.
The judge at Westminster Magistrates Court found that the company fell far short of the appropriate standards and there was serious and/or systemic failure within the organisation to address risks.
London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Paul Jennings, says: “The combined effect of the deficiencies was that if a fire had started, there was a risk of an uncontrolled spread of heat, and smoke and flames affecting the whole premises, coupled with the only means of escape being overcome with smoke.
“In sentencing, the judge made it clear that she increased the fine because of the large number of residents that had been put at risk by the company’s lack of action to address concerns.
“We are pleased with the outcome of this case, which is thanks to the hard work which is done every day by our fire safety inspectors. It should also serve as a warning to property managers that we will take action where people are not taking their responsibilities seriously.
“There’s no excuse for leaving people’s safety to chance, especially when information is so readily available to those with responsibility for safety in buildings to understand what their duties are and ensure they comply with the law.”
Eurolets was charged with these offences and entered a guilty plea to all of them:
- Failure to take general fire precautions;
- Failure to have a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment;
- Failure to ensure appropriate fire arrangements;
- Failure to ensure exit routes were clear and unlocked;
- Failure to ensure appropriate fire safety measures in place and conveyed to employees and residents;
- Failure to maintain and ensure fire safety equipment;
- Failure to provide employees with sufficient fire safety information;
- Failure to provide adequate safety training;
- Failure to ensure adequate structural compartmentation;
- A further charge in respect of combustible items in the second inspection.
Eurolets was ordered to pay a fine of £60,000 on the first charge with no separate penalties for the remaining charges, a victim surcharge of £170 and costs of £20,000.
The total of £80,170 is to be paid over 10 months at a rate of £8,000 a month.