Two landlords fined over breaches
EPSOM AND Ewell Borough Council (EEBC) fined Frank Hare and Chun-Gng Zheng in separate prosecutions over building regulations and fire safety regulations failures.
Surrey Comet reported on the prosecutions undertaken by EEBC, with Mr Hare prosecuted over 19 ‘separate’ breaches of regulations concerning an ‘illegal conversion’ of a property into five individual flats. These breaches mainly related to fire safety, means of escape and a ‘lack of smoke detection’, as well as some relating to ‘inadequate’ sound insulation and ventilation, alongside drainage work undertaken and covered ‘without allowing for the required inspections and approvals’.
Mr Hare – as with Mr Zheng – was prosecuted at Guildford Magistrates’ Court. An EEBC spokesperson stated: ‘Despite multiple visits and advice from the council building control team, Mr Hare did not remedy the defective works or more importantly clear the flats of the occupants who unbeknown to them were living in hazardous conditions. Mr Hare failed to attend court and the magistrates found him guilty of all 19 offences.
‘He was fined a total of £7,004 (comprising £440 for each of 13 building regulation offences, £220 for each of six administrative offences, a victim surcharge of £44 and costs of £2,920).’
Mr Zheng was prosecuted over 13 breaches of regulations at another property, which was a food premises under inspection. The routine investigation by an EEBC environmental health officer discovered two rooms at the property that ‘had been created for habitation in the roof space’, with EEBC adding that there were also a ‘number of offences relating [to] fire safety’ including ‘no fire doors, no self-contained fire lobby, no means of escape or a sufficient smoke detection system’.
Other issues discovered included ‘totally inadequate’ ventilation, new floors ‘inadequate to take the loads’ and a lack of sound insulation between the two floors and between the two new rooms, with EEBC adding that ‘despite several visits and advice given, the defects were not fully remedied’. Mr Zheng pleaded guilty to all charges, and was fined £3,220 comprising £100 for each of the 13 offences, a £30 victim surcharge and costs of £1,890.
Eber Kington, chairman of the council’s strategy and resources committee, commented: ‘We take no pleasure in taking local residents and business people to court however, when people’s lives are put at risk and our recommendations, warnings and instructions are deliberately disregarded, we will not hesitate to prosecute.’