Housing company manager prosecuted after ignoring fire safety rules

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The managing director of a student housing company has been sentenced following a prosecution by Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Jason Berrington, managing director of Student Housing Northamptonshire Ltd (SHN), was alleged to have failed to take the correct fire precautions in three Northampton properties: 12 North Hayes Court, 36 Derngate and 59 Holly Road.

Following information received in early 2012, the fire service investigated the three premises, all of which were occupied as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

Berrington appeared in court in May where he pleaded guilty to failure to take general fire precautions at all three properties, failure to comply with an enforcement notice at 12 North Hayes court and a breach of a prohibition notice at 36 Derngate.

He was sentenced at Northampton Crown Court on Thursday, July 9, where he received a six month suspended prison sentence, a 150 hour community punishment and was ordered to pay costs of £750.

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.

“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, Northamptonshire 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.”