Letting Agents had No Knowledge of Fire Safety Regulations

Manchester property company specialising in sales and domestic lettings has been convicted of breaching fire safety regulations.

Alex and Dines Ltd was fined £3,000 at Bury Magistrates’ Court and ordered to pay costs to Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) of £4,472 with a £15 victim surcharge.

The prosecution by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority followed an inspection in March 2011 of one of the company’s offices in Bury New Road, Prestwich.

The four-storey building was used by Alex and Dines – who describe themselves as “one of north Manchester’s leading estate agents” who “specialise in the sale and letting of residential property” – as an office and had two flats they rented out on the first and second floors.

The company had not carried out a fire risk assessment and there was no alarm system in the building. There were also combustible items in the escape routes which could cause a fire to spread and trap people within the building.

The conditions were so dangerous that GMFRS immediately issued a Prohibition Notice preventing the first and second floor being used. Despite knowing about the Prohibition Notice, the company ignored it and admitted to officers in July that they had continued to allow the tenants to stay there as they did not agree that the tenants were at risk.

Warren Spencer, prosecuting for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “If a fire had occurred on the ground floor the only way out for residents on the first and second floor would lead them to the source of the fire.

“Clearly an alarm to give them an early warning is vital. Most worryingly in this case was that a company of letting agents did not appear to be aware of legislation that had been in force for five years.”

Ian Lewis, representing the company’s directors Anthony Alex and Jonathan Dines, told the court that they were not irresponsible men and were very sorry to have found themselves in court.

He told the magistrates that the company had financial difficulties as a result of problems in the property market and was not making significant profit. Source: firesafetylawyer

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