Just Move Estates in Hoe Street, Walthamstow, had claimed that tenants removed three smoke alarms from the house on Melford Road, Leyton, but upon inspection, council officers found no evidence they were ever installed.

They were fined by Waltham Forest Council, using powers from the Housing & Planning Act.

The council issued a civil penalty against Just Move Estates, which the company initially appealed but later withdrew and agreed to pay a fine of £10,000 plus legal costs of £750.

Speaking after the landmark case for the rights of private tenants, Cllr Louise Mitchell, cabinet member for housing, said she was personally “shocked” that such a well-known company thought it could flout a law which aims to save lives.

Cllr Mitchell said: “I’m genuinely shocked that an experienced lettings agent like Just Move Estates thought they might get away with this.

“As an established agency, trusted by landlords and tenants alike, they really should know better.

“We would very much expect this hefty fine will help them to remember their obligations.

“Quite apart from the fact that it is a legal requirement for landlords to ensure they are present, they are inexpensive and easy to fit. It’s so little effort to prevent a tragedy.”

Waltham Forest Council was one of the first in the country to adopt the powers contained in the Housing & Planning Act (2016) which includes measures to tackle rogue landlords and help protect private rental tenants. It also allows the council to seek rent repayment orders in serious cases.

London Fire Brigade’s deputy assistant commissioner, Al Perez, said he hopes the case will serve as a warning to other landlords.

Mr Perez said: “Any landlord who fails to fit smoke alarms is not only breaking the law but needlessly putting tenants’ lives at risks.

“We welcome this result for Waltham Forest Council, which is one of the first councils in London to prosecute for failing to fit smoke alarms in a rented property under the Housing and Planning Act (2016) and we hope this will act as a wake-up call to all landlords that under this legislation it is your responsibility to install measures to keep residents safe from fire.

“It’s absolutely vital to have working smoke alarms fitted on every level of your home. We would also urge everyone to make sure they have one fitted in every room where a fire can start except kitchens or bathrooms where heat alarms are more appropriate.

“They give the earliest warning possible when there’s a fire and there’s no excuse for landlords not to fit them.”

Government research shows that you are four times more likely to die in a fire in a property that does not have a working smoke alarm.

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