A Mitcham landlord who rented out death-trap bedsits was ordered to pay £25,000 in fines and costs for breaking fire safety laws.
Irshad Ibrahim, 33, of Rural Way, Streatham, admitted ten offences relating to breaching fire safety regulations at a hearing at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court.
Ibrahim owns a single storey industrial unit in Crusoe Road, Mitcham, and let five bedsits above it.
Following neighbours’complaints, a joint investigation of the site was carried out between the police, the local authority and the London Fire Brigade in May 2012.
He was banned from allowing people to sleep on the upper floor and the property was evacuated due to immediate ‘serious fire safety concerns’ following the inspection.
Concerns raised by fire safety inspectors included wholly inadequate fire separation of the bedsits and only one single escape route from the commercial premises.
There was also no fire risk assessment, no fire safety arrangements between the commercial and residential parts and no emergency lighting.
Irshad Ibrahim admitted ten offences at Kingston Crown Court on Wednesday, March 5.
The prosecution marks a first for London Fire Brigade (LFB) who successfully argued for £5,000 of the ill-gotten gains he received in rent to be confiscated.
A spokesperson at the LFB said the case highlights the increasing problem and fire risk of unsuitable buildings being rented out as sleeping accommodation in the capital.
Properties such as disused pubs, so-called ‘beds in sheds,’ garages or industrial units are all potentially lethal fire traps as the spokesperson said it is inevitable people living in them will rely on far riskier ways of heating, cooking and lighting.
Nick Coombe from LFB’s Fire Safety Regulation Management Team, said: "This verdict should serve as a stark warning to landlords who rent out unsafe, unsuitable living conditions to some of the capital’s most vulnerable people.
" Landlords have a clear responsibility under fire safety laws to ensure that people living and working in their premises are safe from the risk of fire.
"If we find people are ignoring these responsibilities we won’t hesitate to prosecute and the sentence handed down in this case shows that the courts take these matters just as seriously as we do."
Richard Lambert, chief executive officer at the National Landlords Association (NLA), said: "This example is a result of successful collaboration between the LFB, the local council and other enforcement agencies – an approach which the NLA has long argued is the best way to root out the criminal operators that bring the wider landlord community into disrepute."
Ibrahim was ordered to pay a total of £25,150 in fines including £7,000 of legal costs.