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ChumpusRex

Landlord Gets Suspended Sentence After Tenant Dies From Co Poisoning

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This is a very tragic and strange case, with some people calling the sentence to the LL very harsh, and others calling it extraordinarily lenient.

My link

In summary:

1. LL contracts agent to let and manage property

2. Agent later sacked

3. During tenancy, National Grid come round to do work on meter, but notice boiler is malfunctioning and disconnect and condemn it, leaving no working gas appliances.

4. Nat grid tell letting agent, but LL never informed.

5. Tenant installs portable electice heaters, but never tells LL about boiler or about need to install new heaters.

6. Over next couple of years, no LL gas checks are performed (but there are no functioning gas appliances in the property - but LL should have thought that there was a functioning boiler)

6. The tenant reconnects the boiler, without telling LL.

7. Tenant dies shortly after of CO poisoning, and neighbour is seriously injured by CO.

Edited by ChumpusRex

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sadly these type of stories (as well as the one about the uninsured landlord bricking it after tenant burnt house down with a candle) are going to get a lot more numerous in number with all the amateur BTL wannabe landlords setting out their stall.

much tighter regulation needed.

how did the landlord collect rent for 2 yrs and not know about the gas/boiler? I suppose it was a case of "as long as the rent keeps showing up in the bank account"

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LL knew there was a boiler in the house so should have had it tested yearly but failed to do so end of ,IMO he was very lucky

That boiler looks very old. Looks like a Glow Worm boiler my parents had installed in the mid 80s.

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If you rent a property to someone as their home and you KNOW there is a gas boiler in there, it is your duty to have it inspected annually and take any appropriate action.

End of!

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Most landlords I have rented from insist on making time for it to be checked yearly. This guy or the house must have been getting reminders.

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Seems like the judge partially accepts that being ignorant of the law is a defence argument. The LL was clearly a danger to their tenant even if it wasn't wilful. Perhaps a longer suspended sentence would have been appropriate?

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Seems like the judge partially accepts that being ignorant of the law is a defence argument. The LL was clearly a danger to their tenant even if it wasn't wilful. Perhaps a longer suspended sentence would have been appropriate?

The Judge is also a landlord.

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Tenants need to be more aware, it is their life that will be lost.

A couple of remedies I have thought of just now;

  • Ban conventional flued boilers from rented acommodation. They are inefficient anyway, and modern room sealed boilers cannot spill CO inside the property by design.
  • Make landlords pay back and unable to charge rent for any period where a Gas Safety Certificate is not in force.
  • Even better give tenants sitting tenants rights if the certificate has expired.
    I am sure the last two would be more effective than a suspended sentence as far as landlords go, and would save lives.

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3. During tenancy, National Grid come round to do work on meter, but notice boiler is malfunctioning and disconnect and condemn it, leaving no working gas appliances.

When NG condemn a gas appliance, do they not stick a load of brightly coloured tape all over it saying something suitably terrifying like "THIS APPLIANCE IS FAULTY AND MAY CAUSE DEATH IF IT IS RECONNECTED - SEEK URGENT REPAIR OR REPLACEMENT BY A QUALIFIED PROFESSIONAL - IF IN DOUBT CALL XXXXXXX FOR FURTHER INFORMATION"?

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I wonder if the landlord did any maintenance at all.

We don't know if the tenant contacted her about the lack of a boiler.

It's quite common for landlords to believe that they just collect the rent and don't want to spend a penny.

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Landlord should have been doing annual checks full stop.

However I'm puzzled to know why the tenant didn't inform the landlord and why did they think after 2 years it would work. And who reconnected the boiler was it actually the tenant? If not why hasn't the person who reconnected a condemned boiler been prosecuted?

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Landlord should have been doing annual checks full stop.

However I'm puzzled to know why the tenant didn't inform the landlord and why did they think after 2 years it would work. And who reconnected the boiler was it actually the tenant? If not why hasn't the person who reconnected a condemned boiler been prosecuted?

Annual checks on what? The boiler wasn't connected and the tenant was an idiot to reconnect it (but we knew that, since the tenant was idiotic enough to pay rent on a place with no hot water?)

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Annual checks on what? The boiler wasn't connected and the tenant was an idiot to reconnect it (but we knew that, since the tenant was idiotic enough to pay rent on a place with no hot water?)

If the Landlord knew the boiler wasn't connected then he didn't need to do checks, but from what was posted he was never informed it was disconnected.

Although agree if the tenant reconnected it they were an idiot. Gas is something you simply don't play with, far too dangerous. In a sense lucky it was just CO poisoning rather than a huge gas explosion.

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LL knew there was a boiler in the house so should have had it tested yearly but failed to do so end of ,IMO he was very lucky

I agree. He should have got prison time. I had a LL like that. I did eventually call the gas board myself for a check & the gas man said I was lucky to be alive.

The LL asked later, 'But why did you call the gas board?' as though I had committed a crime by doing so. Selfish *******. :angry:

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...

Shows that BTL is not a real business...

Being a landlord isn't any kind of business. It wasn't a business when 12th century Barons doing it, and nothing has changed since.

This is clearly manslaughter. The landlord should be doing 20 years.

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too harsh on the landlord?

remember the furore over a couple of deaths due to a faulty heater in a foreign hotel.?..seems to happen every year..it was in the news, the Hotel was condemned, the travel agent and the tour operators were condemned. C4 investigated...questions were asked in the House...

Holiday makers need protection...it appears tenants are a lower form of life on the food chain for some people.

Edited by Bloo Loo

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...with all the amateur BTL wannabe landlords setting out their stall...

I have a feeling a relative of mine is letting out a property, without a BTL mortgage or proper insurance...... is there a way i can establish who their mortgage is with, and make the mortgage company aware? I know for a fact they previously let out their loft conversion as a flat even though it didn't meet fire regs.

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However I'm puzzled to know why the tenant didn't inform the landlord and why did they think after 2 years it would work. And who reconnected the boiler was it actually the tenant? If not why hasn't the person who reconnected a condemned boiler been prosecuted?

Me too. There's something we aren't being told about this. Why did the tenant suddenly decide to "reconnect" (whatever that actually means - did the health and safety people actually physically disconnect it from the gas supply, or did the tenant just switch it back on?) the boiler after two years of making do with electric heaters? And how did he put up with having no hot water for two years?

The LA has some questions to answer, too - why did they not tell the LL that she needed to have annual gas certificates done?

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Me too. There's something we aren't being told about this. Why did the tenant suddenly decide to "reconnect" (whatever that actually means - did the health and safety people actually physically disconnect it from the gas supply, or did the tenant just switch it back on?) the boiler after two years of making do with electric heaters? And how did he put up with having no hot water for two years?

The LA has some questions to answer, too - why did they not tell the LL that she needed to have annual gas certificates done?

I imagine that the tenant has experience of landlords, either this one in particular (quite likely) or more generally, and his experience led him to believe that landlords refuse to do even the most basic statutory minimum of maintenance.

The judge failed to even attempt to explain the tenant's behaviour, but it's obvious to me that a whole generation of landlords who treat tenants as scum, a cash cow has created the environment in which this could happen.

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I have a feeling a relative of mine is letting out a property, without a BTL mortgage or proper insurance...... is there a way i can establish who their mortgage is with, and make the mortgage company aware? I know for a fact they previously let out their loft conversion as a flat even though it didn't meet fire regs.

Assuming you know the exact address, a full title Land Registry search will give you the name of the current owner and name and address of any charges which are against the property. Now that will likely just say 'HSBC Mortgage Service Centre' or whatever, so no way of knowing from who holds the charge if it is regular or BTL mortgage - but you could always write to them as a 'concerned citizen' noting that the property appears to be let (with evidence if possible, although not sure what that would look like) and see if they do anything with it.... probably not, but maybe worth a try.

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I imagine that the tenant has experience of landlords, either this one in particular (quite likely) or more generally, and his experience led him to believe that landlords refuse to do even the most basic statutory minimum of maintenance.

The judge failed to even attempt to explain the tenant's behaviour, but it's obvious to me that a whole generation of landlords who treat tenants as scum, a cash cow has created the environment in which this could happen.

'Prominent animal rights campaigner and former Derby Telegraph columnist Dr Victoria Martindale was handed a 16-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, when she appeared today at Derby Crown Court.'

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Annual checks on what? The boiler wasn't connected and the tenant was an idiot to reconnect it (but we knew that, since the tenant was idiotic enough to pay rent on a place with no hot water?)

Yeah, landlord at fault for poor supervision, but didn't cause the death.

Sounds like tenant died by DIY misadventure. He would have done it as an owner-occupier too.

Plus LL wasn't the owner - sub-letting?

Edited by okaycuckoo

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I rent from one of the ancient estates owned by one of those Normans that came over with Bill the conqueror. We don't need land reform obviously. Never had a boiler inspection. They are not amateurs as they have multiple houses and farms.

In this case the landlord has a house with a boiler. The landlord should know that by law it needs an annual check. The landlord has sacked the agent and taken responsibility and duty of care for the property and tenant (to provide a safe environment). The landlord failed to provide that safe care and the tenant died. This is manslaughter.

Compare this with Mr Sellu, a previously well respected general surgeon in London who was asked to see a patient with abdominal pain. He organised a CT scan which reported the following day in the morning. Sellu decided that he would operate at the end of the day rather than immediately (as he had a list and clinic already booked). By the end of the day the patient was too sick for surgery and needed resuscitation. Despite this he never recovered and went on to die. Sellu had a duty of care which he was seen to have failed due to his choices. He did not directly kill the patient but his inactivity did. Sellu was sent to prison for 2.5 years for manslaughter.

This cases are in some ways very similar. If we send doctors to prison for making the wrong choice (and they make 20-30 decisions like this every day) then why does a landlords neglect which leads to a death not get the same treatment? I do not buy it that the landlord did not know the law. It is their responsibility to understand the risks of their choices in the same why that it seems it was Sellu's. Or does professional duty only count for some?

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I rent from one of the ancient estates owned by one of those Normans that came over with Bill the conqueror. We don't need land reform obviously. Never had a boiler inspection. They are not amateurs as they have multiple houses and farms.

In this case the landlord has a house with a boiler. The landlord should know that by law it needs an annual check. The landlord has sacked the agent and taken responsibility and duty of care for the property and tenant (to provide a safe environment). The landlord failed to provide that safe care and the tenant died. This is manslaughter.

Compare this with Mr Sellu, a previously well respected general surgeon in London who was asked to see a patient with abdominal pain. He organised a CT scan which reported the following day in the morning. Sellu decided that he would operate at the end of the day rather than immediately (as he had a list and clinic already booked). By the end of the day the patient was too sick for surgery and needed resuscitation. Despite this he never recovered and went on to die. Sellu had a duty of care which he was seen to have failed due to his choices. He did not directly kill the patient but his inactivity did. Sellu was sent to prison for 2.5 years for manslaughter.

This cases are in some ways very similar. If we send doctors to prison for making the wrong choice (and they make 20-30 decisions like this every day) then why does a landlords neglect which leads to a death not get the same treatment? I do not buy it that the landlord did not know the law. It is their responsibility to understand the risks of their choices in the same why that it seems it was Sellu's. Or does professional duty only count for some?

Mr Sellu's peers would have had to give evidence...to the fact that he was negligent when faced with a clear medical emergency.

The case of this landlord is legally different...although she had a statutory duty and she failed to carry this out, I suspect, as the judge said, she had no knowledge that there was an active boiler there. So, she is not negligent in the eyes of the law as the Doctor was. The tenant was a dickwad reconnecting the boiler...he will have removed the warning tags put there by the engineer who condemned it.

Saying that, as I posted above, I think the sentence should have been custodial.

Edited by Bloo Loo

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