Maintenance of health and safety standards for landlords in the United Kingdom remains a key priority, with a high focus on compliance relating specifically to electrical safety, carbon monoxide alarms and gas safety.
This comes after two recent cases in which landlords were found guilty of numerous breaches of health and safety regulations, in one instance leading to the death of a tenant in Rochdale.
The first and most severe case in question, according to Health & Safety Matters (21 February 2021), found Mushtaq Ahmed, a landlord of five flats situated above a ground-floor shop, and Shafaq Khan, the owner of the shop, both guilty of gross negligence manslaughter.
The offences for which they were found guilty relate to their failure to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees, tenants and the general public, which resulted in the death of a tenant in one of the first-floor flats, Mr. Joao das Neves Afonso.
Mr. Afonso died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by the exhaust fumes of a petrol generator situated in the shop below his flat. An investigation revealed that the circumstances leading up to the death involved an illegal electrical connection set up by Mr. Ahmed, which was discovered by an electrician, and subsequently disconnected, as it posed a serious fire and electrocution risk.
The electrician contacted Mr. Khan with information on how to have his electricity supply to his shop legally switched back on, but Mr. Khan disregarded this information in favour of installing a petrol generator to keep his shop fridges and tills running.
Mr. Khan was discovered not only to have set up dangerous double-ended electrical connections to his generator, which fed power back into the building’s main supply, but also to have failed to assess the risks posed by the exhaust fumes. The generator was placed in a poorly ventilated storeroom below Mr. Afonso’s flat, and the accumulation of fumes eventually led to carbon monoxide permeating the ceiling, above which Mr. Afonso slept.
Mr. Khan received a prison sentence of eight years, while Mr. Ahmed has been sentenced to nine years behind bars.
Councillor Allen Brett leader of Rochdale Borough Council said, “Health and safety in workplaces is incredibly important because ultimately it's about protecting people against harm and death and preventing avoidable tragedies like this one.
“Landlords and business owners have a legal responsibility to protect their tenants and employees, as well as customers and other visitors, from harm. Unfortunately, the defendants in this case blatantly disregarded these responsibilities and Mr Afonso paid the ultimate price."
In a separate case reported in Health & Safety Matters, a Swansea landlord was sentenced to a 12-month custodial sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay £14 883.30 in costs for failing in his duty to comply with Regulations 28, 36(2), 36(3) and 36(4) of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998.
Mr. Tariq Shehadeh failed to supply a Landlord Gas Safety Record, did not have regular inspections or maintenance and had supplied his tenants with a gas cooker which was not to current standards, a boiler which was found to be a risk which may constitute a danger to life, and installation pipework considered to be immediately dangerous, exposing the tenant and others to potentially fatal exposure to carbon monoxide.
These cases clearly emphasise the need for landlords to take the health and safety of their tenants, visitors and the general public extremely seriously. To help landlords remain compliant, Encompass Safety Solutions offers a range of health and safety consultancy and training courses covering legislation, practical guidance & advice, accreditations and more.