Death of two tenants sees landlord served with large fine and community service

Muhammad Ashraf – a London landlord – has been given a six month suspended jail sentence after two of his tenants were killed partly due to fire safety law breaches.

The property in question was a HMO with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities, and five bedrooms, and when a fire broke out at the dwelling it claimed the lives of two tenants: 60-year-old Thomas McCann and 21-year-old Hamza Zulfiqar.

20 firefighters were called to put out the fire on the property’s ground floor, first floor and loft, and inspectors from London Fire Brigade later found that there were no fire detectors or smoke alarms, and no extinguishers or fire blankets.

There were other safety breaches found at the property, including no risk assessment as well as doors that were unable to provide the required 30 minutes’ protection from a fire.

Furthermore, only the building’s front door served as a fire exit, but it was fitted with a mortice lock that could not be opened without a key, which was a serious flaw for emergency evacuations.

While Mr McCann is said to have shown no signs of attempting to escape the property – meaning that he was unlikely to have been aware of the fire – evidence suggested that Mr Zulfiqar had attempted to leave his ground floor bedroom but had been unable to do so.

Mr Ashraf pleaded guilty to four offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

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Nigel is the Managing Partner and Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution in the London office of Mackrell Turner Garrett.