Private landlord fined £4,000 for safety failings

23 November, 2021

A private landlord who failed to carry out essential safety work has been fined for ignoring orders.

Mohammed Deryo, of Birch Road, Crumpsall, pleaded guilty to failing to comply with an Emergency Prohibition Order served under section 43 of the Housing Act 2004 when he appeared at Manchester and Salford magistrates court on Thursday 18 November.

He was fined £4,000, ordered to pay costs of £3,562 and a victim surcharge of £190.

The court heard that Mr Deryo bought a one-bedroom 11th floor flat at Arthur Millwood Court, Rodney Street, Salford over 10 years ago and it was leased to a tenant.

Salix Homes owns and manages other properties in the 14-storey block, which have all undergone a programme of safety enhancement work.

After the Grenfell Tower tragedy in  2017, Salix Homes moved quickly to enhance safety measures across all our high-rise buildings. A significant programme of safety enhancement work was carried out at Arthur Millwood Court, which included the installation of sprinklers and a new state-of-the art fire alarm system but Salix Homes employees could not get access to Mr Deryo’s flat.

As the flat is privately owned, Salix Homes reported it to Salford City Council’s housing standards team which has powers under the Housing Act 2004 to force landlords to act if required.

Salford City Council asked Mr Deryo to allow installation of an alarm linked to the whole block system, which aimed to provide an early warning to all occupants in the block should a fire break out.

The alarm was successfully installed in January 2018 but the front door, which opened onto a communal hallway, was found to have gaps between the door and the frame and did not close properly. If a fire had started in Mr Deryo’s flat, the door would not hold back smoke and flames for the required 30 minutes to allow the occupant and other tenants to escape.

Mr Deryo was asked to remedy this and was told that the council was considering serving an improvement notice requiring him to undertake the work within specified timescales. He did not respond and the notice was served on 17 December, 2018, giving him six weeks to comply. Mr Deryo failed to respond again and did not comply with the notice, so the council decided to use its powers under the Housing Act 2004 to carry out the work required and charge it back to the owner.

An electrician for Salix Homes then reported the wiring in the flat was over 30 years old, that fuses had been replaced with copper meaning they would not blow as required and several extension leads were overloading the system. The lighting was now not working and the tenant had no form of fixed heating.

The defects with the wiring, lighting, heating and front door were listed and sent to Mr Deryo asking him to make contact with the council and arrange for urgent repairs. He failed to do so and the council replaced the improvement notice with an emergency prohibition order. This meant the flat could not be lived in or rented out until the safety work was done.

The tenant moved out to stay with friends and Mr Deryo had the flat rewired. He presented the council with an electrical installation certificate in May 2019 showing the work had been done and was safe. However, although the tenant had moved back in, no heating had been installed and no work had been done to the front door by February 2020 which meant the emergency prohibition order had been breached.

Mr Deryo was twice invited for interview to explain why this work had not been done but did not attend and did not respond to council letters. He told the court the correct type of door is now on order and will be fitted in early December.

Speaking after the case Councillor Tracey Kelly, lead member for housing, property and regeneration, said: “Mr Deryo was made fully aware of the importance and urgency of the repairs required not only to provide decent living standards for his tenant but also for the safety of the neighbours.

"He had ample time to fully refurbish the property and I hope this sends a clear message that Salford City Council will not hesitate to act against any private landlord who plays fast and loose with decent housing standards and safety.”

Paul Mooney, building safety director at Salix Homes, added: “The safety and wellbeing of our tenants is the utmost priority for Salix Homes, so we welcome the court’s decision to prosecute the private landlord in this case whose failure to comply with our programme of safety enhancement work could compromise the safety of others. We will not hesitate to take legal action to ensure our buildings remain safe places to live both now and in the future.”