slade lane - manchester evening newsManchester Landlord Put Lives at Risk in “Death Trap” Flats

A property landlord has pleaded guilty to 14 fire safety breaches relating to a network of flats above commercial premises in a deprived area of Manchester

The Manchester Evening News reported an interesting case of a landlord who was fined after failing to provide adequate fire health and safety in his properties.

Kamarat Hussain owns a number of connected properties on Slades Lane in Longsight, Manchester – these are commercial shops housing travel agents, a butchers and other small businesses, with eight residential flats above them.

Fire safety officers found numerous problems, including an absence of fire escape signs, missing or broken fire extinguishers, blocked fire exits and faulty wiring.

Child at a window

A hearing took place at Manchester Crown Court in December, at which Prosecutors reported that a fire officer was passing Hussain’s premises by chance in July 2015, when he noticed a child at an upstairs window and became concerned. On entering the building, he immediately saw numerous dangerous problems, prompting an official investigation that would last for months.

The officer issued an enforcement notice within weeks, and over the subsequent 14 months, he made 12 follow up visits in an attempt to bring the building up to standard. Despite this, little had been done when he made his last visit in September 2016.

Hussain was also unable to produce a fire risk assessment, despite repeated reminders and the fact that he claimed to have spent £700 on having one conducted.

Cost cutting

The Prosecutor described Hussain’s “flagrant disregard” for the safety of his tenants through cost cutting measures, that placed them at risk of death or serious injury in the event of a fire. All this, in spite of the properties generating more than £7,000 for Hussain in rent every month.

Hussain’s defence lawyer pointed out that he has had recent health and financial difficulties. He also stated that Hussain recently spent £2,000 on improvements and had not been deliberately cutting costs.

The ruling QC, Judge Patrick Field, disagreed and said there had been deliberate cost-cutting. He noted Hussain’s previous convictions for food safety breaches, and remarked that he has a “tendency to disregard the law regarding the safety of others”.

Hussain was ordered to serve a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, with 200 hours’ unpaid work and £11,025 costs.

In agreeing to the suspended sentence, he remarked that Hussain was fully aware of the consequences for him if he failed to make the necessary improvements.

Bullish

Hussain was bullish in his own defence after the hearing, although his word of choice was slightly different.

He told the Manchester Evening News: “This case is 100 per cent bull****. They’ve done this to me because I’m a young man with a big building. I have done everything they told me. This building I’ve bought is a very big building, and I’ve worked hard for it. I’m not worried about prison because I haven’t done anything wrong. It’s a 100 per cent bull**** – and I’ll come back and prove it.”