Rented house was a fire hazard, court told

A rented home in Mansfield Woodhouse was found to have serious health and safety hazards, including a leaking roof and a lack of smoke detectors, a court was told.

In a case brought before Mansfield Magistrates' Court on 3 October by Mansfield District Council, Fiona Needham, 49, of Glastonbury Close, Mansfield Woodhouse, was convicted of one offence under the Housing Act 2004. 

She had previously pleaded not guilty to the allegation and was due to be tried on the matter on 3 October changed her plea to guilty. 

Fining her £1,060, the Chair of the magistrates, said:  “We take these matters very seriously, there were children in the property.” 

The magistrates also ordered her to pay a victim surcharge of £100 and full prosecution costs of £1,551.85. 

The court was told the landlord had failed to comply with an improvement notice issued by the council in relation to premises which she owns on High Street, Mansfield Woodhouse. 

Council officers inspected the property after receiving a complaint of disrepair in April 2018. They found serious hazards that would affect the health and safety of the tenant, her young child and any visitors. 

They included: 

  • Inadequate fire detection system
  • Insufficient number of and faulty power sockets
  • A risk of falling due to lack of light switches
  • A boiler that was not heating the property sufficiently
  • Damp and mould where the roof was leaking
  • Escape windows on the first floor without appropriate safety catches.

There were informal attempts to persuade Needham to carry out improvements but no work was done so officers served an improvement notice in June 2018. 

They revisited the property and found that while the roof had been replaced and the electrical system checked, the smoke alarms were not connected.

The magistrates heard that a significant fire safety risk remained at the property and that the council was considering carrying out the works needed and recharging Needham.

In mitigation, Needham’s solicitor told the court that his client accepted she had not done enough to get the work done, but said that tradesmen had not always been allowed in to the property.

Commenting after the case, Councillor Marion Bradshaw, Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: "Every tenant deserves to live in a home that is at least safe and this property clearly fell short of that mark.

"It is up to landlords to ensure the safety of their tenants and if they do not, the council has shown with recent court cases that it will pursue that, and rightly so."

Published: October 17th 2019