A landlord has received a fine of £400,000 after failing to comply with fire, health and safety standards in two of his properties, both converted into flats.
City of Lincoln Council took Bijan Keshmiri to Lincoln Magistrates’ Court where he was ordered to pay £404,886.90 in fines and costs for a total of 28 offences in respect of four self-contained flats in one building and a second property with two self-contained flats.
It is believed to be one of the biggest financial penalties ever handed out to an individual landlord in Britain.
Keshmiri used the flats as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) to accommodate 12 tenants in one building and six at the other, all of whom were East Timorese in origin.
Cllr Ric Metcalfe, leader of City of Lincoln Council, said: “This prosecution sends out a clear signal that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated in our city.
“It’s pleasing to see justice has been served against this offender who has, time and time again, exploited his tenants by making them live in appalling conditions, surrounded by many fire and health hazards.
“Many landlords in Lincoln offer properties of a high standard, but to those who don’t, we hope that a fine of this scale will deter them from putting their tenants in such danger.”
The court heard that the first building, which was converted into four flats, had several breaches of fire safety requirements including broken smoke detectors, inappropriate locks on fire exits, poor repairs which could increase the spread of fire, and lack of fire separation and protection between flats.
Living spaces were rendered not cleanable due to years of neglect and the first floor flat had a risk of electrocution from a light.
There were several instances of windows with low sills having broken latches or no opening restrictors on the top floor flats, causing ventilation to be uncontrolled and a risk of an occupant falling from a window.
On the third-floor flat, a hot water supply tank was not sealed with a lid, exposing the occupants to the risk of vermin, insects and infectious organisms such as Legionella bacteria.
There was no emergency lighting in communal areas or the stairwell, and the standard lighting throughout the ground, first and second floor staircases and landings did not work when tested, which when combined with the lack of secondary lighting, exposed the occupants to a serious risk of injury.
The second property had doors sealed shut preventing fire exits and a lack of fire separation, no smoke alarms in the ground floor flat and no fire blanket in the kitchen.
Black mould was prevalent throughout the property.
Magistrates told Keshmiri: “We are concerned that you have owned these properties for several years and they are a fire hazard.
“Given your history, your portfolio of properties and the length of time that you have managed them, this is of the utmost seriousness.
“The offences were so serious that the fine should act as a deterrent to other rogue landlords.”