Two Shoreham business partners have been fined a total of £7,148 for failing to address fire hazards in a property above a takeaway restaurant.
Rashed Hussain and Farhana Miah each pleaded guilty to three separate offences of breaching regulations around the management of HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) when they appeared at Worthing Magistrates’ Court last week.
Hussain and Miah took over the leasehold of the restaurant and the maisonette in Middle Road, Shoreham, in 2016. An enforcement notice – served by Adur District Councils’ Private Sector Housing team – was already in place at the property to address fire safety issues.
As the issues had not been resolved under the previous owner, the new owners were given more time to carry out the work to make the property safe. However, a further inspection in February this year confirmed there were still risks to the health and safety of the occupiers of the maisonette.
The safety issues included a lack of fire detection equipment and inadequate separation between the commercial kitchen on the ground floor and the maisonette, in addition to an inadequate means of escape.
The business partners told the court that when they bought the property, they had not been aware that it was an HMO and that an enforcement notice was in place. They also said they had now surrendered the lease on the maisonette.
However, the magistrates noted that Hussain and Miah had not taken into consideration the real risks presented by the poor housing conditions and the real people whose lives were put at risk.
The court imposed a £1,163 fine on Hussain for each offence plus a victim surcharge of £116. Miah was fined £498 for each offence plus a £49 victim surcharge. The pair was also ordered to pay £1,000 each towards Adur District Council’s costs.
A council spokesman said: “This case shows the importance of the work carried out by the Council’s Private Sector Housing and Legal teams as well as the importance placed by the courts on fire safety precautions in rented accommodation, especially when they are above high risk premises.
“Owners should be aware that a notice served under the Housing Act 2004 follows the property, even if sold, and that new owners will still be required to comply with its requirements or face legal action.”