A Lesson for Landlords who place Profit over Tenant Safety
Kay Godtschalk – A Lesson for Landlords who place Profit over Tenant Safety
UK tenants enjoy some of the toughest protections in the world, not least of which are the rules and regulations that surround the safety of rented accommodation. Yet all too often there’s a vast difference between the legal obligations of landlords and the safety precautions that they actually take. In the case of one local landlady so serious were the safety breaches in question that prison time now looms large on the horizon.
Two Properties. Many Serious Fire Risks.
Local businesswoman Kay Godtschalk today awaits her sentencing for compromising the safety of her tenants, having admitted numerous fire regulation breaches; these included: failing to take fire precautions, failing to implement preventative measures, failing to provide appropriate alarms and failing to secure evacuation routes.
“There is a serious risk of an immediate sentence of imprisonment. It is right there should be as much information as possible for the sentencing judge”.
– Judge Graham Cottle
While Godtschalk had taken some steps towards fire safety, such as commissioning a risk assessment and receiving a quote for the work that would be required, the fact that she hadn’t moved ahead with the work was seen as her putting profit over the safety of her tenants.
“This is a case where the defendant owns and runs two tenanted properties where the fire service attended and found serious breaches of fire regulations.
They also found that the defendant commissioned a fire safety assessment in 2015 which picked up many of the issues. She had received a single quote from a company to put things right but did not take the company up of that. We say this is a case where there may be higher culpability and a suggestion of putting profit before safety.”
– Mr David Sapiecha, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service
Rent a Property? Know your Legal Obligations
“One in seven (15%) tenants surveyed since 1 October say they still don’t have smoke alarms at all, while 16% do have alarms but don’t know if they work. 7% of tenants also reported removing the battery from their smoke alarms for various reasons, rendering it useless and placing themselves and their housemates at risk”.
Fire regulations are complex, to say the least, and you don’t need to be a part of the stats above to land in hot water with the law. As a landlord the obligations before you will depend on the exact type of property you rent (e.g. HMOs, social housing, flats etc.). However as a fundamental first step you must ensure that there’s a means to escape in the event of a fire. Leading on from this you’ll also be required to undertake regular fire risk assessments. Read about these two steps in detail, and how else you are expected to meet your legal responsibilities, in the Fire Safety Advice for Landlords Guide from the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS).
As a landlord the choices you make could be a matter of life or death for someone else. We are a single, one-stop shop for landlords that must follow the toughest fire regulations in the world – providing services that range from Fire Risk Assessments, to the provision of Fire Extinguishers, Safety Signage and the supply and fitting of Fire Doors.