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Luton Borough Council

23/10/2020 - Landlord sentenced after death of tenant in HMO fire

A Luton landlord has been successfully prosecuted following the tragic death of a tenant in a house fire at a HMO with inadequate fire safety precautions in place.

The case was brought by Luton Council, working closely with colleagues at Bedfordshire Police and Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, against Mr Bhagwent Sagoo of Old Bedford Road, Luton.

A fire broke out at 311 Hitchin Road around 8pm on 27 March 2019, originating in the first floor rear bedroom occupied by Mr Evaldas Grisciukas, who sadly died in the incident.

Mr Hincu, another resident, attempted to help Mr Grisciukas. However he in turn needed to be helped out of the property by Mr Lindsay.

Mr Hincu sustained burns, suffered smoke inhalation and was significantly injured.

The court heard that the premises were occupied by seven people at the time of the fire and the judge concluded that there were inadequate fire precautions at the premises. In particular, there were no fire doors and although some fire detection was present, it is not clear if they worked. 

They were not interlinked, as required by law.  

Mr Sagoo pleaded guilty to a charge under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, relating to a failure to take general fire precautions placing persons at risk of death or serious injury in the case of fire.  
He accepted that he was the manager of the property but said he believed the property had been let as a single tenancy.  

The Judge commented that he ought to have known who was in the house and would have done, had he carried out regular inspections.

Mr Sagoo was sentenced to 4 months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with a fine of £20,000 and £12,000 costs.

Cllr Tom Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Housing said “We are committed to keeping residents safe and inadequate fire safety in a HMO just isn’t acceptable. We expect landlords to put the safety of their tenants first and are pleased to see this sentencing handed down.

“We will continue to work towards ensuring landlords keep their properties in good condition and adhere to safety regulations, or face prosecution. I would strongly encourage tenants or neighbours who suspect a landlord is not adhering to the rules to get in touch with us.

“We’d like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Mr Grisciukas.”

Following sentencing, the Judge acknowledged the actions of Mr Hincu. Both Mr Hincu and Mr Lindsay were commended for their bravery.

The required level of fire protection measures required in HMOs varies depending on the layout, but generally they are required to have fire-doors to every bedroom, lounge, kitchen, and an alarm system, including interlinked detectors in bedrooms, lounges, kitchens and in the hall and landing.

Residents can report concerns by emailing [email protected] or calling 01582 547222 in complete confidence.

Find out more about HMOs and HMO regulations​ on our website.

© 2020 Luton Council, Town Hall, Luton LU1 2BQ