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December 23, 2021

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In Court

Landlord prosecuted after failing to meet fire safety requirements

The landlord of multiple flats above a takeaway in Islington, has been found guilty of a series of fire safety failings which left residents with only one option to escape fire – via a restaurant with a metal shutter that was closed at night.

London Fire BrigadeLondon Fire Brigade inspectors visited the takeaway on New North Road, Islington, after concerns were raised by both one of the tenants and the local council.

Jin Zhang owned the residential accommodation on the first and second floors of the building with the takeaway on the ground floor. The only means of escape for residents was via a single staircase to the restaurant, which had a metal shutter on the front when the shop was closed.

After a resident of one of the flats raised concerns with the landlord about the lack of safety measures, in particular the lack of a fire alarm system, no action was taken, leading to the resident contacting the local authority.

When the Brigade’s inspectors later visited the property, a number of breaches were discovered including fire doors being removed on the ground floor, no emergency lighting and no fire alarm.

A prohibition was issued, and residents were told to vacate the building immediately.

Mr Zhang was subsequently charged with these six offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order:

  • Fire doors missing; no closing door to the kitchen and main electrical intake cupboard was not fire related
  • Insufficient/ unsuitable risk assessment
  • Insufficient fire safety arrangements
  • No fire alarm system
  • Failure to ensure safe fire exists and escape routes
  • No evacuation procedures or emergency plan.

The Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Paul Jennings, said: “When our inspectors visited this property, the breaches were serious enough for them to immediately evacuate residents as there were grave concerns for their safety in the event of a fire.

“Although the shutter at the front of the restaurant was not locked at night, the residents would still have had to open it before being able to escape during a fire which is completely unacceptable and could easily have hindered their ability to get out quickly.

“It’s important for all tenants to be aware of their landlord’s responsibilities when it comes to fire safety so they can highlight any concerns.

“There’s no excuse for leaving people’s safety to chance, especially when information is so readily available to those with responsibility for safety in buildings to understand what their duties are and ensure they comply with the law.”

Mr Zhang was fined £500 for each offence and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £50 and £17,335 in costs. The total amount of £20,385 is to be paid within 24 months.

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