Bedsit landlord fined over gas leak

A SUFFOLK landlord has been fined more than £3,000 after a bedsit tenant became ill due to a potentially lethal gas fire fitting. Guvinder Singh, of Felixstowe Road, Ipswich, was in the dock at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court on Monday where he faced charges of contravening health and safety regulations.

A SUFFOLK landlord has been fined more than £3,000 after a bedsit tenant became ill due to a potentially lethal gas fire fitting.

Guvinder Singh, of Felixstowe Road, Ipswich, was in the dock at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court on Monday where he faced charges of contravening health and safety regulations.

Singh rented out bedsits at a property in Rosebery Road, Ipswich.

He pleaded guilty to three contraventions of the regulations between various dates last year. He pleaded guilty to not maintaining a gas fire and having a gas fire in sleeping accommodation. He also pleaded guilty to converting a living room into sleeping accommodation while a gas fire was there.

Singh denied a further contravention and it was withdrawn.

Prosecuting lawyer for the Health and Safety Executive Matthew Taylor told the court the bedsit's 17-year-old tenant suffered headaches, dizziness and sickness when the gas fire in her room was used.

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The court heard the tenant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was paying £250 a month for the bedsit.

Mr Taylor told the court an inspection on July 2 2003 by an environmental health officer found faulty fittings. The court heard the risk to the public was high as a result.

An engineer, who inspected the fire, said it was the worst he had ever seen with tin foil being used instead of a 3 Amp fuse. There was also bad ventilation around the fire and discrepancies between the landlord's safety record and state of the installation.

Defence lawyer Ian Duckworth told the court Singh did not own the property but was acting as landlord. Mr Duckworth told the court his client had been trying to improve the bedsits.

He added: "He has spent lots of money trying to do them up properly. He has been doing what he can."

District judge David Cooper fined Singh £1,500 for failing to maintain the fire in a safe condition and ordered him to pay costs of £1,640. He gave no separate penalty to the other charges.

Speaking after the case Ian Cotgrove, an inspector with the Health and Safety Executive spoke about the dangers of gas fires.

He said: "Rented accommodation needs to be safe. It is clear by the sentence today that the court has recognised that this duty was not met.

"The Health and Safety Executive will continue to investigate breaches of this legislation and enforce it with the utmost vigour.

Mr Cotgrove said Singh had converted a three-bedroom house into four bedsits.

He said: "If there was a fault on a gas fitting in a lounge gases and carbon monoxide are less likely to build up but if it is used as a bedroom you go to sleep for eight hours breathing in carbon monoxide."

Mr Cotgrove said when blood is saturated with 35 per cent carbon monoxide people become unconscious.

He said: "You still carry on breathing when you are unconscious until it kills you. This particular fitting had not reached the stage where it was likely to be fatal immediately but there were severe health effects being felt."

Anyone who has concerns about their gas fittings should contact the Health and Safety Executive on 01245 706200 for more information.

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