The dangers of tampering with electrics became a terrifying reality for one family who were lucky to escape with their lives after their home was destroyed by fire.
The family, who lost most of their possessions in the blaze, were alerted by the smell of smoke at the start of a huge fire in the roof of the property, owned by us.
In September a judge found in our favour after we went to court for breach of tenancy. We had sought to repossess the home; however, the judge decided to suspend the repossession and instead imposed a strict set of terms for the tenants to follow for the next three year or they will risk losing their home.
Deputy District Judge Emmanuel, who heard the evidence at Slough County Court on Monday 24th September, found that, on the balance of probability, the cause of the roof fire was either due to unlawful electrical adaptations at the house undertaken by the tenants or equipment installed to grow cannabis in the loft.
The cost to rebuild the property after the fire was in excess of £150,000.
As a result of their actions the tenants are now incurring the courts costs and rental costs, which they will be paying back for a number of years to come.
Trevor Morrow, chief executive of Red Kite, said:
“This fire was the worse we have ever experienced. It was good fortune that the fire did not occur during the night when the family would have been asleep in their beds. They, and their neighbours, could have sustained serious injuries or even been killed.
“The deliberate actions of these tenants have not only rendered their original home unliveable while repair works have been carried out, but also means they have occupied another home which has been unavailable for another family in need in the community. At a time when homes are in such short supply, this was entirely avoidable.
“Red Kite staff have also spent a huge amount of time on this case and ultimately the losses incurred as a result impact directly on other tenants and leaseholders, who bear the cost.
“We are a tenant-led housing association and our tenants help set the level of behaviour we expect. If these red lines are crossed we will seek the termination of tenancies. These tenants are fortunate the judge decided to issue a suspended possession, which means they now have to abide by a set of terms including that they must allow us access to their home at any time and without notice.
“There have been no winners in this situation, the family have without doubt been through a terrible time, but one that was entirely avoidable. We can only hope that this devastating case serves as a warning to other people tempted to act in such a reckless way.”
We would like to remind all of our tenants that any changes to gas and electricity must be carried out by us to ensure work is undertaken in a safe way by qualified people.
If you are concerned about the safety of the electrics at your home or would like further advice, please contact our team on 01494 476 100.