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All safety concerns need to be reported

Tenants in privately rented accommodation are being asked to report any safety fears they may have after an appearance in court by a landlord who allowed a tenant to stay in a three storey property which had no fire escape.

Any tenant living in houses of multiple occupation (HMO) has been urged to contact the housing department of York Council if they have any worries about safety issues of the room they are renting.

In November 2009 the council closed down landlord Mehmet Altin’s renting operation because he was renting five rooms located above his kebab and pizza business which had no fire escape. It was not just housing officers who had concerns as fire-fighters were also worried for the safety of tenants living in the rooms. Mr Altin also did not have a landlord’s licence. This is something that angered local landlords who pride themselves on having a landlords licence and landlord insurance.

Five months later a housing officer made a return visit to the three-storey premises where he found Mr Altin had defied the prohibition order and allowed someone to sleep in one of the rooms for a night.

Mr Altin, 36, pleaded guilty to breaching the order along with failing to ensure the safety of his tenant and running a HMO without having a licence. He was fined £3,015, a government-imposed victim surcharge and prosecution costs by York magistrates.

Ruth Abbott, the council’s housing standards and adaptations manager, said “People in the building could have been trapped in the event of a fire. We are here to ensure the safety of tenants and other people who live in HMOs and we want to know if people who live in HMO are concerned about their health or safety.”

The council works with landlords to make sure the properties are safe, but it can take extreme measures as it did in this case. Mr Altin could have purchased a HMO landlord licence for five years which would have cost him £550.