Stafford Magistrates Court

The landlord of a Stafford house has been fined more than £4,200 for breaking fire safety rules according to Stafforshire Newsletter.

Magistrates in Stafford heard how tenants’ lives were in danger because Raymond Manning failed to put things right even after Stafford Borough Council officials pointed them out to him.

An inspection revealed no fire door for the kitchen, over loaded electrical sockets, no effective smoke detectors, and safety checks for a gas fire and boiler had not been carried out, at the property in West Way on the town’s Highfields estate.

The court was told six people had been living in the house at the time.

 Manning, was ordered to pay more than £4,200 after admitting eight offences relating to ensuring the house was safe and not complying with an improvement notice between January and June. The court was told despite being served a notice to improve standards in January nothing had been done several months later.

He was given a fine of £2,240, ordered to pay costs of £1,941 and a victim surcharge of £28. Manning, 37, who works at Coventry University, said he had “buried his head in the sand.”

Simon Turner, prosecuting for Stafford Borough Council, said: “The charges relate to very serious hazards that threaten human life which were found on an inspection. The law is there to ensure safety of tenants in houses of multiple occupation.

He said: “Mr Manning was the manager of the six bedroomed shared house. It had a shared kitchen and bathroom with bedrooms, over two floors, for individual tenants who are required to pay rent.”

He said the council carried out an inspection after one of the tenants contacted them because he was worried repair works at the property had not been done.

Mr Turner added: “Following the inspection environmental health officer Brendan Grufferty served an improvement notice on Mr Manning but he failed to comply with the requirements. And he has still not complied with them to this day.”

The list of hazards also included poor lighting, no hand rails or covering on the stairs and the front door was not properly secured.

Mr Turner added: “The kitchen has the highest risk and in this property it was required to have fire doors – because without them you increase the risk of death to any of the occupiers if there was to be a fire.”

The court heard there were no longer tenants and Mr Manning wanted to sell the house.

Manning said: “I didn’t realise I was a landlord with tenants – I believed I was a home owner with some lodgers. Some of the people living there have not been paying me money but have been claiming housing benefit from the council.

“I had serious responsibilities to the people that have not been met but I know ignorance is not a defence. I want to thank people like Brendan Grufferty as I realise they were trying to work with me and help me but I have buried my head in the sand.”

Presiding magistrate Keith Colson said the offences were very serious and Manning had ignored his responsibility to put things right.

A fire risk assessment should have been completed on the property which would have helped identify the risks within the building and allowing the landlord to rectify these before the situation escalated. For free impartial advice call us on 0203 478 7347 or use our online contact form.