£20k fine for flat fire landlord

A former landlord in Worthing is facing a hefty £20,000 fine after a fire at his property left one of his tenants in hospital.

Brighton Magistrates Court heard fire spread through the three flats in the Victorian conversion property in may last year, but the tenants were unaware of the danger due to the lack of working smoke alarms in the property.

The fire was started due to cooking being left unattended – no fault of Mr Millis – and quickly spread throughout the building. Four residents escaped quickly, but two residents in the top floor flat became trapped due to the stairs becoming smoke-logged, and although they both escaped, one was taken to hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.

Whilst it was heard that smoke alarms were present in the property, the court heard how a resident explained that she had ‘lived in the property for four years and never heard the smoke alarm sound’ and that ‘several of the smoke detectors still had the manufacturer’s dust covers on them, rendering them non-responsive to smoke.’

Terry Millis, who is no longer a landlord, admitted that he put his tenants lives at risk with his actions, pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the requirements to prevent the risk of fire. It was stated that he was aware that the alarm wasn’t working and the danger that the residents were at risk of, and that he had contacted a company to repair the alarm two months before the fire, but the work had not been completed.

Upon sentencing, the district judge Tessa Szagun reduced the fine was reduced from an initial penalty of £30,000 thanks to his guilty plea. There were also additional costs to the court.

The purpose of sentencing in this type of case is to protect the safety of individuals living in such premises by ensuring that there is no financial gain by any person cutting corners. There is also a necessity to deter others from doing so.

District judge, Tessa Szagun

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