Northampton Landlord sent to prison for breaches of fire safety law

A landlord who owned a string of properties in Northampton has been sent to prison after pleading guilty to 26 counts relating to breaches of fire safety law.

Anil Rodrigo, aged 60, formerly a resident of Northampton, was sentenced during a hearing at Northampton Crown Court on Monday (March 18).

Mr Rodrigo will face eight months in prison after Judge Adrienne Lucking QC handed him separate prison sentences for each of the counts, to run concurrently.

The charges related to fire safety offences, under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, at eight properties in Northampton, including addresses in Earl Street, Aberdeen Terrace, Cowper Street, Althorp Road, Overstone Road, Colwyn Road, St James Park and Hazelwood Road.

The court heard how, during visits made in 2009 and 2010, fire protection officers raised concerns with Mr Rodrigo about fire safety issues at his properties. Some of the concerns raised included smoke detectors found without power or covered with Sellotape and doors which were not adequately fire resistant. Unfortunately, Mr Rodrigo did not engage with officers at the earliest opportunity to address the issues.

The charges included failure to comply with a prohibition notice, a notice which, in this case, prohibited people sleeping at an address, and failure to comply with an enforcement notice, which required steps be taken to remedy noted fire safety defects.

Speaking to Mr Rodrigo in sentencing, Judge Lucking said: “It can’t have escaped your attention that you had responsibilities and obligations to fulfil in terms of fire safety and these were considerably serious for officers to attend your premises.”

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service welcomed the result of the case as a strong message to other landlords that action will be taken if fire safety is disregarded.

Community Protection Manager Scott Richards said: “It is fortunate that none of the properties mentioned in this case actually suffered a fire. We would encourage all owners or managing agents of rented properties, including houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), to review their fire safety arrangements, to make sure their properties are compliant.

“We recognise that justice has been done in a case which could have so easily led to more serious consequences. The matters within this case were considered thoroughly by the court and the sentence imposed provides a clear message that failure to comply with fire safety law will be treated seriously.

“Landlords have an absolute duty to their tenants to ensure safety precautions are in place to protect them in case of fire. This includes providing working smoke alarms on each storey of a property.

“In this situation, Mr Rodrigo failed to meet his duties as a landlord in taking all the necessary precautions to meet the fire safety standards required by law. His case serves as a reminder to all property owners about how extremely important fire safety responsibility is in the role of landlord.”

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