09 Jun 2021

A council investigation found no fire alarms, routes of escape blocked, and a broken window covered with a ‘to let’ sign

A Manchester letting and management company has been fined more than £21,000 after one of their properties was found to have multiple fire safety breaches.

Mecca Properties M/cr was found guilty of ‘systematic failings’ at a tribunal following an investigation by Manchester council.

The company  was issued a civil penalty notice in August 2020 after one of their houses in multiple occupation (HMO) breached regulations.

An inspection by the council’s rogue landlord team found obstructions to escape ways in the event of a fire, including doors that could not be unlocked without a key.

The HMO, on Dickenson Road, had no smoke alarms on the first inspection, while Mecca also failed to provide a gas safety certificate when requested and deficiencies were found in the electrical installation.

Parts of the property were also found to be dirty and in disrepair, with tiles missing in the bathroom, damaged hallway floors and a broken window covered with a ‘to let’ sign.

Council officers found a broken window covered with a ‘to let’ sign (Image: Manchester council)

Mecca Properties appealed the fine through the First-tier Residential Property Tribunal, which upheld Manchester council’s decision to impose the penalty earlier this month.

The tribunal also found that the breaches were significant enough to warrant the £21,499 fine sought by the local authority.

Mohammad Saghir, the director of Mecca Properties, declined to comment on the council investigation or the outcome of the tribunal.

Manchester council says it tried to engage the company on several occasions and offered to help them address the breaches – such as fitting temporary fire alarms – but to no avail.

An extension cable kept together by tape was one of several fire safety breaches uncovered at the property (Image: Manchester council)

Councillor Rabnwaz Akbar, executive member for neighbourhoods, said: “The private rented sector is one of the fastest growing in the city and our residents need decent properties that they can trust, with landlords that take their responsibilities to their tenants seriously.

“We know that the vast majority of landlords and managing agents are very good, but for those that are not, I hope that this sort of action serves as a real warning.

“This management agent showed systematic failings and is now thousands of pounds out of pocket.

“The level of fine shows that we are looking for you and we will use the full extent of the law to bring you to account.

“If you or someone you know is concerned with the way your property is being managed, please get in touch. We can help.”

The Mecca property is one of 2,247 licensed HMOs in Manchester that are inspected by the council to ensure residents in the private rented sector are safe and that their homes are up to standards.

The investigation was part of a focused day of enforcement which saw officers issue two emergency prohibitions, which stops the property from being rented out.

A further two notices were handed out for emergency repair works, along with two improvement notices and four £300 demand notices.

Over the last year Manchester council has issued 28 civil penalties totalling £288,674, along with 39 improvement notices and 10 hazard awareness notices.

Link to original article

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