A landlord who failed to provide proper fire protection for his tenants was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £1,500 in costs (Tuesday 26 July 2016) after pleading guilty to three charges under the Housing Act 2004 at Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court according to Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

The court heard how a fire had been started by a candle in 23 Balfour House, St Charles Square, London W10 on the evening of 29 September 2015. By chance the fire was detected quickly and the fire brigade was able to extinguish the fire and no one was injured.

The property, which was let to four tenants, is owned by Matthew Ryan of Princess Crescent, London N4.

An investigation by officers from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea found no fire doors to the bedroom, kitchen and living room. The absence of these doors meant the only means of escape for tenants had not been properly protected allowing smoke and flames to flood the top floor landing.

There was also no wired-in fire detection system, which would have warned the tenants. Three battery-operated smoke alarms, that Mr Ryan did not remember fitting, were not properly maintained. The batteries to the alarms had run down and been removed by the tenants to stop a beeping noise.

Mr Ryan is a professional landlord, owning a total of 19 properties.

Ryan bought his first property in 1985 and his properties have been his sole source of income since about 1992. He bought 23 Balfour House in March 2002 and was receiving a total of £2,800 per calendar month in rent, amounting to £33,600 per year.

In mitigation the court heard that Mr Ryan is a good landlord who takes his responsibilities very seriously and is highly thought of by his tenants. He very much regretted the offences. The house provided a very pleasant home and Mr Ryan made sure to keep it in very good order. Three residents provided letters to the court explaining that he is a caring and responsive landlord.

Cllr Rock Feilding-Mellen, Deputy Leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Landlords simply must be aware of all their responsibilities to their tenants and particularly where measures to protect tenants from the risk of fire are concerned.

“House in Multiple Occupation landlords must ensure that a competent person has carried out a fire risk assessment of their properties.

“I think it is fortunate no one was injured as a result of this fire which exposed the short comings in fire protection at 23 Balfour House. If we discover that laws designed to protect tenants are being flouted we will investigate and prosecute.”