South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says the prosecution of Sheffield property developers for flouting fire safety laws at city centre student flats serves as a stark warning to landlords and developers.
Ashgate Property Developments Ltd was fined £36,000 when the firm was sentenced at Sheffield Magistrates Court on Tuesday (20 August 2019). The company was also ordered to pay the prosecution costs totalling £12,719.
The company pleaded guilty to three offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 relating to a student accommodation block on Rockingham Lane, Sheffield.
Following fire safety concerns raised by a resident, inspecting officers from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s business fire safety team visited the premises in October 2017.
During the fire safety inspection, and subsequent follow up visits, the service identified a number of serious fire safety concerns. These included the fact that there was poor fire separation between flats and the corridor escape route at the time that tenants moved in to the property. Dust covers had been left on smoke detectors and a roller shutter door which could have been used as an escape route in the event of a fire was found to be inadequate.
Inspectors issued an enforcement notice to ensure the defects were remedied and a prohibition notice preventing the roller shutter door from being closed at night.
Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “This verdict should serve as a stark warning to property developers and landlords that they have a duty under fire safety laws to ensure people sleeping in premises they’re responsible for are safe from the risk of fire”.
“If we find people are ignoring these responsibilities we won’t hesitate to prosecute and the sentence handed down in this case shows that the courts take these matters just as seriously as we do.”