Hatfield and St Albans companies fined over fire safety breaches

Fire regulations broken in Harpsfield Broadway

Fire regulations broken in Harpsfield Broadway - Credit: Archant

Two companies managing rented properties in Hatfield have been ordered to pay more than £42,000 after admitting breaking fire regulations and other failures in a pioneering prosecution.

Taken to St Albans Magistrates’ Court by the borough council, Odus Ltd of Bishops Square, Hatfield, admitted 41 offences on four properties managed for private landlords, and XS Property Management Maintenance Ltd of Hatfield Road, St Albans owned up to a further five offences for one property.

The failures for Odus Ltd included locked and faulty fire doors, missing smoke seals, an empty fire extinguisher, a missing fire blanket, and a broken alarm.

Councillor Mandy Perkins, cabinet member for planning, housing and community, said: “We are very pleased with this outcome. It is proof that we will not tolerate managing agents in our borough who compromise the safety of their tenants, particularly relating to fire safety issues.”

Shaji Odushoti, a director of Odus Ltd, told the WHT the council had inspected the homes only two weeks after it had taken them over, and issued a summons while it was waiting for landlords’ approval for the necessary work.

It was fined £17,600 and ordered to pay the council costs of £17,424, in respect of multiple occupancy properties in Richards Street, The Runway, Harpsfield Broadway, and Fillingham Way.

XS Property Management, which was prosecuted over another property in The Runway, was fined £4,300 and ordered to pay costs of £3,210 for problems such as a faulty fire door and a missing smoke seal.

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Director Shain Hutchings said: “I feel aggrieved at the fine. These were very minor faults, and we were not given time to correct them. If I could have afforded to, I would have fought it.”

Councillor Perkins added: “We hugely value the contribution that good quality rented accommodation makes to the local housing market, but we hope this sends a clear signal to managing agents that they must comply with the law.

“I would urge residents to protect themselves by checking their managing agent or landlord is PAL (Partnership Accreditation for Landlords)-accredited.

“This is a council-run scheme, which strives to ensure that accredited managing agents meet their legal obligations.”