Landlord prosecuted over flats fire safety breach

Preston magistrates' court.
Preston magistrates' court.

A landlord has admitted serious fire safety breaches at a block of flats occupied by several people.

Eli Zohar, 68, of Marine Road West, Morecambe, put lives at risk despite having being served with a notice by fire safety inspectors.

Zohar, who owns properties in Morecambe and Lancaster, was prosecuted by Lancashire Fire and Rescue over failures to comply with an enforcement notice served on June 10 on Westminster Road, Morecambe, which related to ensuring the adequacy of fire precautions, and failing to effectively maintain his emergency lighting.

It was served following an inspection of the flats three days earlier.

He pleaded guilty to two offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 before Preston magistrates and will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court on December 12.

A Lancashire Fire and Rescue spokesman said: “Mr Zohar is a landlord of a large number of properties in the Morecambe area, and has a duty to ensure that his tenants are provided a safe environment.

“We hope that this prosecution will ensure the standard of his properties are kept within the requirements of the law.

“In our constant drive to make Lancashire safer, fire safety enforcement teams are actively seeking out such premises.

“We would hope the outcome of this case sends a clear message fire safety is a priority issue that should always be addressed before tenants or guests are accommodated.

“The consequences of the inadequate fire safety measures and management could have led to serious injury or loss of life and circumstances left us no option but to take this action.”

Speaking after the court hearing, Eli Zohar told The Visitor: “According to the report given to the court by Colin Todd who is a leading expert in Fire Safety, LFRS has not provided evidence to show breach of the fire safety order.

“Out of six charges, I agreed to plea for two charges of minor breaches in order to shorten the court hearing.

“I showed due diligence by employing four different electricians to do all necessary maintenance.

“Unfortunately, it took longer than expected to find the rare and hidden fault and then repair it.

“At all times, there was sufficient fire safety systems in place.

“Furthermore, at the inspections done by three LFRS officers and two senior council officers, the fire system did not show any fault when tested.

“The officers decided that there was no risk for the two tenants in the property and they were allowed to stay. The most serious risk was to myself, being instructed by the health and safety officers to open the cover of the fire alarm panel, since I am not a professional electrician.

“According to myself and company policy, the safety of the tenants is of utmost importance and priority. There is no compromise when safety issues are reported.”