The managing director of a student housing company has been sentenced following for breaching fire safety regulations.
Jason Berrington, managing director of Student Housing Northamptonshire Ltd (SHN), failed to take the correct fire precautions in three Northampton properties in North Hayes Court, Derngate and Holly Road.
Following information received in early 2012, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service investigated the three premises in Northampton, all of which were occupied as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).
At Northampton Crown Court on May 28 Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service successfully prosecuted Berrington. He pleaded guilty to failure to take general fire precautions at all three properties, failure to comply with an enforcement notice at North Hayes Court property and a breach of a prohibition notice at the Derngate house.
At Northampton Crown Court yesterday Berrington received six months imprisonment (suspended for 12 months), 150 hours of unpaid work to be completed within 12 months, £750 of fire service costs to be paid within 12 months and £100 victims surcharge.
Chief Fire Officer Martyn Emberson said: “This case clearly demonstrates how seriously fire safety breaches are viewed by the courts. I hope it sends a clear message out to landlords and managing agents across Northamptonshire. Responsible Persons need to act responsibly.
“We proactively look for suspected HMOs because we know these are the highest risk premises, housing vulnerable people who are being exploited by landlords who won’t fit fire doors or fire alarm systems. These simple precautions are affordable and would save the lives of their tenants should a fire occur.
“Where we find systematic non-compliance or a severe breach putting lives at risk we will take enforcement action and in the serious cases we will prosecute those responsible.”
Councillor Andre Gonzalez de Savage, county council cabinet member for strategic infrastructure, economic growth and public protection said: “I am very pleased that this action has been taken and I would like to recognise the efforts of our Fire Protection Officers in gathering evidence and preparing the case for court.
“It demonstrates that we will not hesitate to take enforcement action against these types of individuals, who are selfishly putting people’s lives at risk.”