A LANDLORD who exposed his tenants to “miserable living conditions” because of fire safety hazards has been hit with a hefty fine.

Darshan Sidhu, 55, of Lichfield Street, Walsall, pleaded guilty by post at Liverpool, Knowsley and St Helens Magistrates’ Court on April 20 for failing to comply with Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) regulations at his Bridge Street property.

He was ordered to pay more than £5,000 after fire escapes in the HMO were found to be obstructed and not of a well-maintained standard between November 2014-16.

On sentencing, the district judge told the court how the local authority couldn’t have been any clearer in telling Sidhu what work was required by him in the HMO – which was described as “miserable living conditions” by the judge.

The district judge also stated that this was a commercial enterprise and that Sidhu would have made a considerable profit on the HMO.

The offence was categorised as one of high culpability, given the commercial profit gained, and one of high risk, given the difficulties the tenants would have had escaping from the property in the event of a fire.

Sidhu was ordered to pay a total of £5,032 which included a fine, costs and victim surcharge.

Commenting on the outcome, St Helens Council’s strategic director of people services, Mike Wyatt, said: “The majority of St Helens landlords are responsible and provide good quality and safe accommodation.

“Unfortunately, as in this case, not all landlords follow their example and the accommodation they provide is extremely poor and hazardous to the health and wellbeing of tenants.

“The council enforces the law to make sure tenant's health and safety welfare is protected, and will take formal action against landlords who don't comply.

“I would encourage landlords to contact the council to seek any advice and ensure compliance with legal requirements."

For more information on HMO licensing or the HMO new licensing proposals call 01744 671636 or contact the council’s contact centre by visiting sthelens.gov.uk/contact-us.