Rogue landlord ‘risked lives’

Blackpool Magistrates court
Blackpool Magistrates court

A man described as a professional landlord with 20 properties in Lancashire allowed one of them to become a fire hazard which put tenants ‘ lives at risk.

The six flat property had just two fire extinquishers – one of them empty and the other had not been inspected for 19 years.

There was poor maintenance and poor management which involved significant risk to the tenants

Michael Stones, 55, of Hawkes Bay, Ribby Hall, Wrea Green admitted seven fire safety breaches which put people in danger of death and injury when he appeared before Blackpool Magistrates.

He was fined a total of £18,755 and ordered to pay costs of £7,180.

The court heard that audited accounts showed that at its peak his lettings portfolio earned £270,000 a year- some £68,000 paid by local authority housing benefit.The earnings had gone down because of the property slump and Stones’ expensive divorce from his wife who was also his business partner.

Stones was prosecuted by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service following an inspection of the house on Park Road,Blackpool.

The service put a prohibition notice on the property which meant no one could live in it until vital fire safety work was carried out.

Iain Blundell, prosecuting, said that fire doors were missing and self closing devices on doors were also absent.

As well as problems with the extinquishers the man fire safety panel was broken, there was a building up of combustible material in the basement and there was no emergency lighting or evacuation procedures.

There was also a hole in a ceiling which would allow rapid fire spread.

A door in the basement was blocked by a ladder.

The prosecutor said: “There was poor maintenance and poor management which involved significant risk to the tenants.”

“Accountants figures we have been provided with shows at one stage the properties Mr Stones owns produced a revenue of £270,000 in one year.

“The most recent figure is £155,000 a year.”

The court heard that remedial work had been done on the property which now met fire service requirements.

Stones was still encountering financial problems and was considering becoming insolvent.