Property management company fined for fire safety failures. Make sure you know your legal responsibilities!
PROPERTY MANAGEMENT agent Eurolets (UK) Limited has been ordered to pay more than £80,000 for safety failings which “exposed a potentially large number of people to the risk of death or serious injury from fire”. London Fire Brigade (LFB) inspectors found “serious fire safety defects” during two visits to a five-storey building on Danbury Street in Islington managed by the company.
An Enforcement Notice requiring Eurolets (UK) Limited to address the fire safety-related concerns was issued following a visit in 2016. Subsequent compliance was sufficient. However, a later visit then found similar defects to those noted during the previous inspection.
The Danbury Street building consists of more than 40 self-contained flats let out to tenants. The inspections revealed deficiencies including combustible material near the entrance to the premises, a lack of fire extinguishers and signage, doors wedged open, holes within the walls and a non-functioning fire alarm system.
Eurolets (UK) Limited was charged with ten separate offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, with the company entering guilty pleas to all charges. The case was heard at Westminster Magistrates’ Court earlier this month. This is the full list of charges and penalties:
- failure to take general fire precautions
- failure to have a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment conducted
- failure to ensure appropriate fire arrangements
- failure to ensure that exit routes were clear and unlocked
- failure to ensure appropriate fire safety measures being in place and conveying the appropriate detail to employees and residents
- failure to maintain and ensure fire safety equipment
- failure to provide employees with sufficient fire safety information
- failure to provide adequate safety training
- failure to ensure adequate structural compartmentation
- a further charge in respect of combustible items in the second inspection
The presiding judge found that the company “fell far short of the appropriate standards” and that there was “serious and/or systemic failure within the organisation” to address the risks involved.
Eurolets (UK) Limited was ordered to pay a fine of £60,000 on the first charge (with no separate penalties for the remaining charges), a victim surcharge of £170 and costs of £20,000. The total fine levied of £80,170 is to be paid over ten months at a rate of £8,000 per month.
Residents placed at risk
Paul Jennings, the LFB’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, said: “The combined effect of the deficiencies was that, if a fire had started at the premises, there was the risk of an uncontrolled spread of heat, smoke and flames affecting the whole premises, coupled with the only means of escape being overcome with smoke. In sentencing, the judge made it clear that she increased the fine because of the large number of residents that had been put at risk by the company’s lack of action to address stated concerns.”
Jennings added: “We are pleased with the outcome of this case, which is thanks to the hard work conducted every day by our fire safety inspectors. It should also serve as a warning to property managers that we will not hesitate to act in situations where people are not taking their responsibilities seriously.”
In conclusion, Jennings noted: “There’s no excuse for leaving people’s safety to chance, especially so when information is so readily available to those with responsibility for safety in buildings such that they can fully understand what their duties are and ensure they comply with the law.”