A LANDLORD and Estate Agents have been fined following the death of a tenant in a house fire in Wolverhampton.
Jagraj Singh and Rashid Malik, on behalf of Haris Estate Agents Ltd, pleaded guilty following the death of 43-year-old Bartolome Turtak who died when a fire broke out in a rented house in Rayleigh Road in August last year.
The defendants were charged with failure to ensure all means of escape from fire at the premises were maintained in good order and repair, failure to maintain the fire alarm system, failure to take reasonable measures to protect the occupiers from injury and failure to maintain gas and electricity supplies under the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006.
Jagraj Singh, the property owner, pleaded guilty to three offences and was fined a total of £3,000 and ordered to pay £2,250 costs. Rashid Malik, on behalf of Haris Estate Agents Ltd, pleaded guilty to five offences and was fined a total of £4,500 and was ordered to pay £2,250 costs.
A total of 10 residents occupied the house - a 3 bedroom mid terrace which was not suitable for that amount of people - when the fire broke out on August 11 last year. Nine of the occupants managed to flee the property, but 43-year-old Bartolome Turtak was left trapped inside.
Mr Turtak, originally from Slovakia, was overcome by smoke and died a short while later.
Fire investigation officers discovered that batteries had been removed from a smoke alarm before the fire and that the design of the house did not facilitate safe access from the property.
And when environmental health officers requested safety certificates for the gas and electricity supplies in the property within the required seven days, the defendants failed to produce them, although Mr Singh later produced a gas safety certificate.
Nick Edwards, Wolverhampton City Council’s assistant director for regeneration, said: “This is a very tragic case and our condolences go to Mr Turtak’s family.
“But this also highlights the importance for landlords or any managing agents who let out properties of the importance of ensuring houses meet the safety requirements.
“A working smoke alarm would have alerted the occupants to the fire at an early stage and escape windows might have helped the victim escape in time.
“We also cannot emphasise enough the importance of ensuring all rented properties have fully maintained gas and electricity supplies.
“While this was not a direct factor in this case, failure to maintain gas and electric supplies to the required, safe standard exposes tenants to potential dangers such as carbon monoxide poisoning and electric shocks/ fires.
“We are pleased that the courts have recognised the importance of this. This case demonstrates that this is not just a matter of red tape but can literally mean a matter of life and death.”