Manchester Lettings Firm Fined £21k for Breaching Fire and Gas Safety Protocols

Any property with a gas leak can be extremely dangerous. Fires, explosions, and carbon monoxide poisoning are all possible outcomes. This is why it is critical that your landlord acts quickly to repair any defective gas pipes and/or appliances in your home.

As such, landlords need to ensure all the appliances and piping that they provide are safe to use. Not doing so will result in a breach in fire and gas safety protocols, which can have dire consequences. Take the case of lettings company Mecca Properties M/CR.

The company was fined £21,000 for “systematic failings” after one of its properties was discovered to have violated fire safety regulations. This civil penalty notice was issued to the firm in August 2020 when, in one of the inspections done by the Manchester City Council (which periodically assesses HMOs), it was discovered that the house in multiple occupation (HMO) did not adhere to safety protocols. It had blocked fire escapes, had no smoke alarms, and locked exit doors that had no keys. The decision to fine the business was made after several attempts to contact the company went unheeded.

Executive member for neighbourhoods Councillor, Rabnwaz Akbar, hopes that this action towards Mecca will serve as a warning especially for rogue landlords.

Fire and gas safety

Landlords are accountable for tenant health and safety. Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations of 1998, landlords must arrange for a full maintenance and safety evaluation by a licensed Gas Safe engineer. Likewise, a gas safety examination is required every 12 months. The safety inspection must be documented for two years, and each existing tenant should receive a copy within 28 days of the inspection’s completion. Before they move in, new renters must be given a copy of the record.

Following safety practices is also important. For example, in the Mecca property case, one of the fire hazards identified was an extension cord held together by duct tape. This type of adhesive is flammable, so it is not a suitable substitute for electrical tape.

Also, gas leaks cause nausea and headaches and, in worst-case scenarios, suffocation and fire. As such, the furniture that your landlord provides you must be fireproof.

Another important thing to consider: extinguishers around the house should be strategically positioned so they are easy to find, especially if the property is large.

Lastly, a fireproof home is one that follows all safety regulations, including the presence of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in a room with gas-powered equipment.

Other housing disrepair

At present, Mecca’s Manchester property is prohibited from being rented out because of its numerous safety violations. Aside from the fire and gas safety issues, it is untidy and appears to be falling apart with a broken window, damaged hallway floors, and missing bathroom tiles. One window was even covered with a “to let” sign, presumably to conceal the damage.

Mould can thrive in damp conditions. This is quite likely to happen as a result of a broken window, which allows moisture to form, seep in, and accumulate in the property, especially if there isn’t enough ventilation inside. This is also very inviting for pests and vermin during winter, when they seek shelter to stay away from the cold. Hence, it is important to seal all cracks and holes so rodents do not find a way to enter your home.

The central heating system is also the landlord’s responsibility. Once a building’s central heating system bogs down, temperatures in each flat will fall, allowing moisture to form. This gives way for an environment that’s perfect for mould to flourish.

Reporting disrepair issues

If you are fortunate enough to have your council inspect your home or your landlord’s property on a regular basis, the state of your home will not be overlooked. However, if your landlord or rental firm is like Mecca Properties M/CR, you will have to report the problems to the council directly. (And even then, as this story has shown, the people behind Mecca Properties M/CR were reluctant to help; never complying with their local council.)

A warning however: Landlords usually assist you with the disrepair, but there may be some who would prefer to evict you instead of paying a company or someone to fix your rented home. This mainly applies to private landlords, as social and housing tenants have certain legal rights that protect them against evictions.

Write your landlord an email or send them an SMS to let them know of the disrepair in your home. Allow them 20 days to respond to you. Should your landlord ignore your repair requests, your next stop should be either your council or a solicitor that handles housing disrepair claims. You can then start making claims for housing disrepair compensation.

Ask the housing disrepair experts at Disrepair Claim for professional advice on how you can get back what you lost or might lose because of your damaged home.

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