Salford landlord fined £20k for unsafe property, despite warnings
A Salford landlord who repeatedly let out an unsafe house has been fined £20,000 by magistrates.
Housing officers from Salford City Council found fire doors were not up to standard and the fire alarm and detection systems and escape routes were still unsafe three years after the owner was ordered to do the work.
Despite an emergency order banning the landlord, Demetirous Georgiou, from renting out the property until it had been made safe, housing standards officers found every flat had been let.
Georgiou, of George Street South, Salford, and Woodlands Avenue, Whitefield, was convicted of two offences of failing to comply with an Improvement Notice and breaching an Emergency Prohibition order.
He failed to attend Manchester and Salford magistrates’ court and the case was proved in his absence on Tuesday, June 28. In addition to the fine, magistrates ordered him to pay £4,700 in costs and a £181 victim surcharge.
The court heard that the three-storey building at George Street South, Salford, had been converted into five self-contained one-bedroomed flats, each with a kitchen and bathroom and a further ground floor flat without a bathroom. The basement had also been converted into a separate flat with its own entrance.
The property was added to a list of pro-active inspections and a housing standards officer from Salford City Council visited in May 2016. She was concerned about a lack of fire detection equipment in one of the flats and secured a warrant to gain access to all the flats.
That inspection revealed inadequate fire detection and protection and that the gas and electricity meters had been bypassed. British Gas and Electricity North West removed both meters leaving the whole building without power for cooking, hot water and lighting.
Georgiou was served with an emergency prohibition order preventing him from letting the flats until the electricity supply was reinstated and a report submitted to show it was safe. He was also ordered to bring the fire alarm system and fire doors up to standard.
A suspended improvement notice was also served for work to be done once the emergency work was complete. This required Georgiou to provide heating, lighting and hot water in the property, move the gas and electricity meters to a more suitable location and repair the handrail and balustrade on the first floor landing for safety reasons.
The property was checked in August 2016. Georgiou had restored the electricity supply legitimately and was living in the basement flat. The rest of the house was empty, but the gas supply had not been restored.
Another check in March 2017 found Georgiou had re-let the flats without carrying out the required work. The new electricity meter had been used to set up private meters to serve the flats. All the meters were removed and the tenants re-housed.
The property was monitored and in December 2019 was inspected again. All the flats had been recently re-let but the fire safety work had not been carried out and none of the work required in the improvement notice had been completed.
Every fire door or door frame was either damaged, leaving large gaps, or was poorly maintained. Escape routes were hampered by a fridge, chair, paint cans and a cardboard box and the fire alarm panel showed faults in two zones.
The electricity meter was now legitimate but Georgiou had not provided the safety certification required. Tenants were unaware of the emergency prohibition order.
Georgiou was twice invited for interview in January 2020 to explain the breach of the emergency order but failed to attend.
Speaking after the case, Deputy City Mayor and lead member for housing, Cllr Tracey Kelly said the council will continue to monitor the property and would not hesitate to take further action if it was re-let without the work being completed.
“Fire safety systems are there to protect tenants’ lives. Landlords cannot ignore that and put people at risk,” she said.
“The vast majority of Salford landlords understand this and work with us to provide good quality and safe homes. We will continue to rigorously inspect private rented properties to make sure they reach the standards tenants deserve.
“If tenants renting privately have any concerns about their property they can contact us in confidence at email@example.com .”