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£10,000 fine for landlord following fatal fire

26-03-2012

Following a fatal fire on 29 April 2011 at 546 Coldhams Lane, the landlord Darius Valiulis of Neville Road Cambridge, was prosecuted by Cambridge City Council for breaches of the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations 2006, and fined a total of £10,000 plus £6,000 costs.

At the time of the fire, the house was occupied by seven individuals, including three in one room. The fire precautions in the property were described by the Fire Service as “woefully inadequate”, consisting of a single smoke detector on the first floor landing. There were no fire doors, and the doors to the bedrooms were key operated, which did not allow easy emergency exit.

The ceiling of the room where the fire started was covered with polystyrene tiles. These are highly flammable, and give off toxic fumes on combustion. Their use is not recommended in HMOs.

At the initial hearing in October 2011, Mr Valiulis pleaded not guilty to five out of eight charges. The three charges to which he pleaded guilty were failing to provide a gas safety record, failing to provide fire exit signs and failing to provide written notice of the manager’s name and contact details.

After a series of postponements, the case was heard on 13 March 2012, at which time Mr Valiulis offered no defence to the charges. He was subsequently found guilty of the remaining five charges, and fined £2,000 on each count. The council’s costs of £6,000 were awarded against him.

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