Fire-safety breach: landlord ‘deserved greater sentence’

Laszlo Banky
Laszlo Banky

THE SENTENCE handed to a Scarborough landlord who endangered the lives of his tenants by breaching fire regulations has been criticised.

Laszlo Banky, 51, of Castle Road, was given a community order and told to complete 100 hours of unpaid work after he was convicted of eight breaches of regulations in relation to fire safety last week.

He was also convicted of failing to apply for the appropriate licence from Scarborough Council for his guest house in North Marine Road, which was occupied by Banky and eight tenants.

Recorder Deborah Sherwin said she was “horrified” by the potential dangers at the property, which included inadequate fire detection equipment, doors which were not fire resistant and obstructions to exit routes.

She added that she may have imposed a custodial sentence, had magistrates not said they believed Banky should have received a financial penalty at an earlier hearing.

Recorder Sherwin accepted that Banky had committed the offences through ignorance rather than malice, but warned that it is the responsibility of landlords to ensure they comply with regulations.

Council inspectors visited the four-storey property in March last year, after receiving an anonymous tip-off from a member of the public.

Due to the serious risks they uncovered the property was immediately shut and its residents were relocated.

The case was prosecuted in a joint effort by Scarborough Council and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Following the sentence, Andy Skelton, head of environmental services at Scarborough Council, said: “In this particular case, the nature of the offences was serious enough to warrant a much greater sentence and landlords should not take this warning lightly.

“We will continue to work with the fire service to protect vulnerable tenants and to ensure that landlords carry out their legal duties.

“We always attempt to work with landlords, however in cases where lives have been recklessly put at risk we will not hesitate to take firm enforcement action.”

Station Manager Richard Hanley, of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said he was satisfied that the prosecution had been successful.

He added: “The fire service does not take the decision to prosecute lightly, however the risk to the occupiers of this building was very high with an almost total lack of fire precautions, obstructed escape routes and a number of issues that would increase the risk of serious injury or death in case of fire.

“We will take action if appropriate, but is not for us to determine the level of sentence. We were quite pleased with the outcome.”

Banky has now sold the guesthouse and is no longer a landlord.