At Bodmin Magistrates Court on 8 July 2011, Cornwall Council’s Private Sector Housing team successfully prosecuted Newquay landlord Karen Gamon of Toppers Hotel, 73 Mount Wise, Newquay for failing to comply with requirements of the Housing Act 2004 and the The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations.

During inspection of the property during June 2010 numerous breaches of the Management Regulations were identified. The inspecting officer noted the automatic fire detection installation was defective and posed an imminent risk of serious harm to occupiers from the hazard of fire. Miss Gamon was immediately required to ensure the fire alarm was working by having it tested by a competent person. Should she have failed to do so emergency action by the Council would have been necessary to protect the occupiers.

Miss Gamon was informed of the HMO Management Regulations breaches by the Council but failed over a significant period of time to carry out necessary works.

Works specified included the requirements to remove stored combustibles restricting safe use of the means of escape in the property, make safe the loose and cracked concrete tiled entrance pathway steps, remedy penetrating damp to the ground floor porch and remove large accumulations of refuse to the rear of the property.

In December 2010 a final inspection was undertaken at which time the fire alarm was again noted as being defective and works to remedy the identified issues under the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations had not been done.

Miss Gamon pleaded guilty to 4 separate offences relating to her failure to maintain the fire precautions, means of escape route in the event of fire, communal areas and outbuildings at the property. Total fines of £1,700 were issued by the court with costs of £173.67 awarded to the Council and a £15 victim surcharge.

Cornwall Council cabinet member for housing Mark Kaczmarek said:

“Cornwall Council values the contribution made by well-managed houses in multiple occupation within the local housing market but will continue to intervene in these types of property to ensure minimum standards are maintained. As indicated by this case there are landlords who flout the law by failing to ensure their properties conform to legal requirements. These people can rest assured that in order to protect the health safety and welfare of tenants in private rented accommodation the Housing Service will make every effort to bring them to book. I want to congratulate the Private Sector Housing team for their good work in bringing this successful prosecution.”