Absentee landlord ordered to pay over
₤15,500 for unlicensed fire trap property
A landlord who rented out unlicensed
properties in Liverpool and breached an Emergency Prohibition Order has been
fined. Mr Mustafa Taghdi, who lives in Libya, but also resides in Portsmouth, was
sentenced at Liverpool Magistrates Court, on Monday, 18 September 2017, after pleading
guilty to 17 charges including operating unlicensed properties and breaching an
Emergency Prohibition Order, on 2 separate occasions.
The property on Princes Road in Toxteth came to the Council's attention in
October 2016, after intelligence was received that a house converted into flats
Officers from the City Council's Landlord Licensing team visited the property,
but were so concerned about the lack of fire precautions that a referral was
made to Environmental Health Officers from the Housing Enforcement Team. When they
attended on the 3 November 2016 and found that the means of escape was
obstructed with domestic waste and furniture which would hinder swift exit in
the event of a fire.
The property had no fire alarm system in place which meant there was no early
warning in the event of a blaze, and fire escape signs led tenants up to a 3rd
floor fire escape which was locked, giving a false sense of safety, leading to
potentially devastating consequences. This, coupled with the absence of any
property management, meant that the officers had little choice, but to shut it
down immediately due to the imminent risk of serious harm to residents.
Mr Taghdi was contacted straight away and was advised that it was his
responsibility to ensure that the building was vacated.
Formal visits were made
to the property on 28 November 2016, 22 March 2017 and again on 22 August 2017
when Officers assessed remedial works undertaken and found on each occasion
residents were present and the property was occupied in breach of the Emergency
Although some remedial work had started, it was not enough to
revoke the Emergency Prohibition Order.
Sitting at Liverpool Magistrates, District
Judge Wendy Lloyd criticised Mr Taghdi and described the lack of fire
precautions as "shocking."
In her summing up she stated:- "Distant
landlords are not all bad but they must be vigilant and must not exploit tenants
for profit, but in reality although Mr Taghdi co-operated with the investigation,
he did put his tenants at risk. The 1st breach of the Emergency Prohibition
Order was bad enough, but the 2nd breach was greatly aggravated as there was
no real fire protection and even though some work had been done, it was mere lip
service and was in effect window dressing a dangerous situation. Mr Taghdi has
chosen to take the risks he did as he was putting profit first, he doesn't have
to buy and rent out property in Liverpool."
District Judge Lloyd concluded:- "The Emergency Prohibition Breaches are
the most important because of the safety issues, but that this reveals the
importance of licensing in a large area like Liverpool."
Liverpool's Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Frank Hont, said:- "This
property posed a serious danger to the tenants and the fines here reflect this.
The absentee landlord committed these very serious offences putting the tenants
in a position they should never had been in and we will robustly enforce against
those non compliant landlords who refuse to licence their properties comply with
Mr Taghidi was fined ₤6,500 for operating the unlicensed properties which were
required to be licensed under the Landlord Licensing scheme, ₤2,000 for the
first Breach of the Emergency Prohibition Order and ₤4,000 for the second
breach. He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of ₤120 and the City
Council's full costs of ₤3,034.04, meaning a total bill of ₤15,654.04.