West London landlord handed £57,000 fine
The landlord was charged with the fine after admitting to a series of fire safety and housing offences.
Mr David Symonds pleaded guilty to the charges brought by Chelsea and Kensington Borough Council, with the flat in question in Woodsford Square branded both an ‘accident waiting to happen’ and a ‘death trap’, after a council environmental health officer inspection. Officers had been alerted by the fire brigade, which had been called out to a fire previously at the property, and the health and safety officials found a range of safety breaches.
The first was that there was no automatic fire detection system inside the property, so there was no proper early warning system for occupants in the event of a fire. The next was that there was an absence of fire safety equipment in the property, with fixtures and fittings missing including both smoke seals and fire separation between rooms.
The officers also found that there weren’t fire doors to some rooms, while other fire doors were damaged – at least one featured holes, which would increase the chance of a fire spreading through the building quickly. The flat’s multiple bedsit rooms were fitted with key-operated locks, with the possible consequence that a fire would have risked occupants being locked in, while there were also loose electrical cables featuring multiple electrical adaptors in use, increasing the chance of a fire.
Finally, officers found that an escape route – the garden staircase – was obstructed by a table, chairs and a gas cylinder. Mr Symonds accepted in mitigation that he wasn’t managing his affairs properly at the time, and could have benefited from the services of a property management agent. The defence also argued that he did not have ‘flagrant disregard’ for responsibilities, but had a medical condition and was thus incapable of managing the property.
Additionally, the court heard that Mr Symonds was no longer letting out the property, and is set to sell it. He was handed the £57,000 fine as well as an order to pay costs of £3,825 and a victim surcharge of £120.