A LANDLORD and housing co-operative are facing heavy fines after a large house in Burnley was left like ‘a death trap’.

Damaged fire doors, faulty fire alarms and a lack of fire extinguishers greeted safety experts from the fire service when they raided 143 Manchester Road in October 2014, the town’s magistrates court was told.

Front and back doors at the four-storey property could only be locked from the inside, potentially hindering any escape in an emergency, the court heard.

Fire chiefs found that 12 French students and two French carers had been given rooms there by Embrace Co-operation Ltd, which had leased the house from Dr Muhammad Bhatti.


Dr Bhatti, 42, of Albany Road, Liverpool, was found guilty after a trial by Pennine magistrates of four offences under fire safety regulations, covering failures to provide general fire precautions, maintain alarms, ensure emergency routes could be used and provide easily accessible locks.

Embrace Co-operation, of London, pleaded guilty to six offences of a similar nature, also covering failures to provide fire safety training and risk assessments. Both Bhatti and Embrace will be sentenced at the court on February 10.

Warren Spencer, for the fire service, said: “The premises contained a number of breaches of fire safety legislation and lack of general fire precautions that placed the occupants at risk of death or serious injury.”

The court heard “inadequate, ill-fitting and damaged fire doors” had been wedged open, and many had faulty or poor self-closing devices. In the event of a fire they would not have prevented the spread of smoke or heat.

Inspectors also noted there were holes in the basement’s ceiling, which would have caused any fire to spread upwards, as well as the problems with the front and back door locks and lack of firefighting equipment.

Mr Spencer also told the court the fire alarm system, as it stood, took a number of days to repair before it was working, leaving tenants with no warning of any potential incidents.

Speaking after the case Tony Crook, Lancashire Fire’s group safety manager, said: “The leaseholders, Embrace Co-operation Ltd and the landlord, Dr Muhammad Bhatti, were both found to have a degree of control for the fire safety provision.

“They had a duty to ensure that people were provided with a safe environment. We hope this prosecution will ensure that the standard of his properties are kept within the requirements of the law.”

He has urged other landlords, who want fire safety assistance with house of multiple occupation or other premises, to come forward and work with officers.

Mr Crook said: “The consequences of the inadequate fire safety measures and inadequate management could have led to serious injury or loss of life.”