A criminal landlord has been handed a suspended jail sentence after a tenant died in a house fire at his sub-standard HMO.

Tenant Evaldas Grisciukas died in the fire which started in his first-floor bedroom on Hitchin Road in Luton on 27th March last year, despite two other tenants attempting to save him. One was badly burnt and suffered smoke inhalation.

The court heard that seven people were living in the house at the time of the fire; it had no fire doors and some fire detection that wasn’t linked between rooms and might not even have been working.

Landlord Bhagwent Sagoo, of Old Bedford Road, Luton, admitted failing to take general fire precautions, putting tenants at risk of death or serious injury. 

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He accepted that he was the manager of the property but said he believed it had been let as a single tenancy.  

The judge ruled that he ought to have known who was in the house and would have done, if he had carried out regular inspections. Sagoo was jailed for four months, suspended for 12 months, and fined £20,000 with £12,000 costs.

Luton Councillor Tom Shaw (below), portfolio holder for housing, says: “We are committed to keeping residents safe and inadequate fire safety in a HMO just isn’t acceptable. We expect landlords to put the safety of their tenants first and are pleased to see this sentencing handed down.

“We will continue to work towards ensuring landlords keep their properties in good condition and adhere to safety regulations, or face prosecution.”

3 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t really understand the logic behind the increased fire requirements for HMOs. All the fire safety measures are a good idea (fire doors, linked smoke detectors, fire escapes, etc). But why not incorporate them into standard residential homes also?

    If it’s good enough for tenants sharing a house with other adult tenants, why not for a family house that includes children?

    • HMOs have a higher fire risk – 7 bedsits = 7 kitchens and kitchens are the place nearly 50% of fires start. And in HMOs the kitchens are more likely to be cramped, thus making them more prone to fires. Also tenants do not have the same bond with each other that is present in most families. So the first instinct in an HMO is to get out if there is a fire and then people start to think that there may be persons inside- causing tenants to go back, whereas the first instinct in a family is to make sure every one is making their way out immediately.

      On a practical issue, in a family house, fire doors are not fitted with closers because children often cannot open doors fitted with closers. there is family responsibility to make sure the fire doors are closed at night etc. In an HMO, you often see tenants wedge open fire doors, compromising fire escapes, so this further confirms the lack of bond with the other residents.

  2. I can’t believe this. Someone DIED. The Landlord only gets a 4m SUSPENDED and a £20k fine. Thats absolutely disgusting. No deterrent whatsoever. What on earth is the legal system playing at? He should’ve been done for corporate manslaughter under H&S legislation and gone to prison. I’m a Landlady myself and my chosen profession remains under a black cloud of public opinion because of cases such as this.

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