Two Bolton landlords have been fined after a four-month-old baby and both his parents were taken to hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning.
Mr and Mrs Mehboob and Suraiya Bobat were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found four gas appliances at a property on Bowness Road were unsafe, and that they had failed to arrange an annual gas safety check as the law requires.
Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard a couple, who have asked not to be identified, began renting the two-bedroom terraced house in February 2013 – three months before their baby was due.
Towards the end of the month, the expectant mum began to suffer headaches, palpitations and had difficulty breathing. She was taken into hospital for several days, with doctors assuming her symptoms were linked to her pregnancy.
Her husband also started to suffer from severe headaches and was given codeine by his GP.
Later in the year, on 21 August, the couple were both at home in the afternoon looking after their four-month-old son. He had been crying all day and they were concerned that he was unwell.
The baby’s father also started to suffer with a really bad headache shortly before his wife began to feel dizzy and collapsed on the kitchen floor. Her husband called for an ambulance and all three members of the family were treated in hospital overnight for high levels of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The HSE investigation found a gas-powered water heater in the kitchen should only have been used for a maximum of five minutes at a time as it did not have a flue. However, it was connected to the washing machine as well as the kitchen sink and had begun to emit high levels of carbon monoxide due to its overuse.
The heater was classified as ‘immediately dangerous’ by a gas engineer, along with a gas heater in the front bedroom. A gas fire in the lounge and gas boiler in the kitchen were also found to be ‘at risk’ of causing carbon monoxide poisoning.
The court was told that Mr and Mrs Bobat were asked to provide a copy of the latest Gas Safety Certificate to prove a registered gas fitter had inspected the property in the past year, but they admitted they did not have one.
Mehboob Bobat, 47, and Suraiya Bobat, 46, of St Helens Road in Bolton, were each sentenced to 80 hours of community service with unpaid work and each ordered to pay prosecution costs of £720 after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. They were also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £60.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Principal Inspector Mike Sebastian said:
“A young couple and their baby son were needlessly made ill for several months because Mr and Mrs Bobat failed in their legal duties as landlords to arrange an annual gas safety check.
“It’s shocking that all four of the gas appliances in the property had the potential to cause carbon monoxide poisoning. If the baby’s father hadn’t acted quickly to call an ambulance when he wife collapsed then the effects could easily have been fatal.
“Landlords must take their responsibilities seriously and make sure houses they rent out are safe for their tenants. We will continue to take legal action when landlords ignore the law.”
Tenants whose landlords have failed to carry out annual gas safety checks and provide a certificate of proof are being encouraged to contact HSE at www.hse.gov.uk/contact.
Notes to Editors
- The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk.
- Regulation 36(2) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 states: “Every landlord shall ensure that there is maintained in a safe condition any relevant gas fitting and any flue which serves any relevant gas fitting, so as to prevent the risk of injury to any person in lawful occupation or relevant premises.”
- Regulation 36(3) states: “A landlord shall ensure that each appliance and flue to which that duty extends is checked for safety within 12 months of being installed and at intervals of not more than 12 months since it was last checked for safety.”