Prosecution sends serious message to landlords

25 September 2013

Three men who failed to take the correct fire precautions in nine Kettering properties have been prosecuted by Northamptonshire County Council’s fire and rescue service.

Why did this prosecution take place?

Following a fatal fire at 47 Edinburgh Road, Kettering in May 2012, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) investigated another eight premises in Kettering: 209 Havelock Street, 140 Wood Street, 44 Wellington Street, 157 Regent Street, 5 Leicester Street, 124 Mill Road, 22 Digby Street and 12 Kings Walk.

All these premises were occupied as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) as defined within sections 254-259 of the Housing Act 2004.

What was the outcome?

At Northampton Crown Court on (14th August) Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service successfully prosecuted AJIT SINGH the owner of all properties and HUSSEYIN OZZENGIN (sole trading manager) the managing agent in respect of five properties and WALDEMAR ORDYNOWSKI (of Four Seasons Letting Agency) the managing agent in respect of three properties.

At Northampton Crown Court today (25th September) the following sentences were awarded.

  • AJIT SINGH was sentenced to nine months in prison and ordered to pay costs of £7,500
  • HUSSEYIN OZZENGIN was sentenced to five months in prison suspended for twelve months and ordered to undertake two hundred hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay costs of £2,000
  • WALDEMAR ORDYNOWSKI was sentenced to three months in prison suspended for twelve months and ordered to undertake one hundred and seventy five hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay costs of £2,000

Chief Fire Officer Martyn Emberson said "This case clearly demonstrates how seriously fire safety breaches are viewed by the courts. I hope it sends a clear message out to landlords and managing agents across Northamptonshire.

“We proactively look for suspected HMOs because we know these are the highest risk premises, housing vulnerable people who are being exploited by landlords who won’t fit fire doors or fire alarm systems. These simple precautions are affordable and would save the lives of their tenants should a fire occur.

“Where we find systematic non-compliance or a severe breach putting lives at risk we will take enforcement action and in the serious cases we will prosecute those responsible.”

Councillor Andre Gonzalez de Savage, county council cabinet member for strategic infrastructure, economic growth and public protection said: “I am very pleased that this action has been taken and I would like to recognise the efforts of our Fire Protection Officers in gathering evidence and preparing the case for court.

“It demonstrates that we will not hesitate to take enforcement action against these types of individuals, who are selfishly putting people’s lives at risk.”

Background to the case

On 17th July 2013 at Northampton Crown Court, Singh and Ozzengin pleaded guilty to failure to take “general fire precautions” as may reasonably be required (Article 8 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005).

Ordynowski had previously pleaded guilty at Kettering magistrate’s court to similar charges.

Failure to carry out general fire precautions means they failed to carry out a fire risk assessment, failed to ensure the installation of an appropriate fire detection and warning system, failed to ensure that persons within the premises were able to evacuate the premises as quickly and safely as possible and failed to ensure that emergency doors were not locked or fastened so as to prevent their easy and immediate use in the case of an emergency.

Ozzengin also pleaded guilty to failing to comply with a prohibition notice within one of the premises he was managing. Article 32(1)a of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies to nearly all premises, with the exception of single private dwellings. In HMOs, it applies to the common parts of the building, where the "Responsible Person" must ensure adequate fire safety standards and arrangements through a process of fire risk assessment.

For more information

Information about fire safety standards is available online or for further information contact Community Protection Manager Group Manager Baz Fox bfox@northantsfire.org.uk

Ends


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