A DEBT-RIDDEN husband and wife housing landlords from Sheffield were blasted for a series of gas safety breaches which could have had fatal consequences for their tenants.
District Judge Antony Brown spared them jail, but condemned the actions of estranged couple Farhat Basharat and Waheed Ahmid, both 34, as he dealt them suspended prison sentences for putting the lives of a family at risk at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court.
The pair were investigated after Sheffield Council officers were called to the Gleadless Road home they owned in November 2010.
At the time, a Latvian family of five - including three children - were renting the property from them.
When officers visited they found appliances and flues had not been checked by a registered gas engineer and had not been maintained in a safe condition as required by law.
They were deemed an ‘immediate danger’, exposing tenants to risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, which kills around 20 people in the UK every year.
Inspectors also found tenants had never been given a copy of relevant records - and the council called in the Health and Safety Executive to prosecute.
Citizens Advice Bureau worker Basharat, and taxi driver Ahmid, who have five children together, pleaded guilty to three breaches of gas safety failings at a previous court hearing.
The court heard the couple were struggling with a number of debts including thousands of pounds in unpaid tax from Ahmid’s fast food business which folded in 2005.
Basharat was also suffering from depression as a result of the proceedings against them.
Shazia Parveen, defending, said: “This case has caused them much embarrassment and shame and they just want it to be over.”
Basharat, of Violet Bank Road, Nether Edge, and Ahmid, of Albert Road, Heeley, were sentenced to three months in prison suspended for 12 months.
Basharat must carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and Ahmid was ordered to complete 150 hours.
District Judge Brown said: “Once these appliances were seen and inspected they were judged to be an immediate danger. The risk of serious harm, or worse, was a significant one.
“It requires a message to be sent out to landlords.”
The couple, who still own the empty house in Gleadless Road, must also pay £7,500 court costs, which the judge demanded be paid within four months.
Sheffield Council’s deputy leader Coun Harry Hapham said: “The council takes situations like this seriously which is why we brought in the HSE.
“Private landlords cannot put people’s lives at risk. It is their statutory duty to make sure all safety measures are put in place.”