Agency chief and landlord prosecuted over fire safety

8 December 2020 | Renting

Two landlords in the same town – one the director of a lettings firm – have been prosecuted as their properties did not meet fire safety requirements.

Kristian Johnstone of Altrincham, the director of Easylet Residential and Relocate NW Ltd, owns and lets three HMOs in Warrington.

He was convicted for offences relating to the fire safety requirements of the three properties under the HMO Management Regulations and also failure to licence a HMO.

Johnstone attended Chester Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to 38 offences. He was fined £19,000, plus £1,000 in legal costs and was ordered to pay a £181 victim surcharge.

The sentencing judge said: “Offences show a complete failure to grapple with the regulatory regime” and there were “multiple failings in this case to provide safe accommodation for a large number of tenants”.

The judge also stated there was a “significant number of people exposed to serious risk of death”.

Separately David Cooper was letting out his Warrington home to three other tenants without meeting HMO regulations.

He was prosecuted for offences relating to fire safety, in addition to offences relating to the production of appropriate gas and electrical safety documentation. 

He was also prosecuted for a further offence under the Housing Act for failure to provide other documentation required by the council.

Cooper attended Warrington Combined Crown and Magistrates Court Centre and pleaded not guilty to six offences. He was found guilty on all charges and fined a total of £1,895.

A council spokeswoman says: “If you are letting out a property or room, you must abide by the regulations put in place to keep tenants safe, ensuring you research what is expected of you and your property as a registered landlord. You must meet and maintain the required safety measures in the property for the length of the tenancy or tenancies.”

“In these cases, the council recognised that the properties posed a significant risk of danger to the tenants as regulations had not been followed by the landlords. We’re satisfied that we were able to drive these cases to the point of two successful convictions and bring awareness to landlords of what measures must be taken to ensure the safety of their tenants.”

This post has originally been featured in Letting Agent Today.