A restaurant business has been ordered to pay more than £44,000 after a judge found poor housing had exposed employees to “a serious risk of loss of life”.
Employees had been housed in 12 small rooms created above China Place in Chapel Road, Worthing, which breached fire safety regulations.
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Services (WSFRS) attended the restaurant at the request of Worthing Borough Council in 2019 and found that fire doors to the escape routes were being propped open and were in poor condition, equipment was being stored in fire escape routes and firefighting equipment had not been maintained.
The business was prosecuted after it failed to make improvements and earlier this year China Palace Worthing pleaded guilty to four offences under the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006.
Magistrates fined the company £11,100 for each of the three offences related to fire safety and £7,950 for an offence in respect of facilities. The company was also ordered to pay the council's costs of £2,795.86 and a victim surcharge of £181. The amount to be paid totalled £44,226.86.
In sentencing, magistrates said the company had exposed people living at the property to a serious risk of loss of life for more than six months with very little activity in relation to repairs.
Worthing Borough Council's executive member for customer services, Councillor Dr Heather Mercer, said: “I want to congratulate the members of our private sector housing team for their diligence and dedication to see this through to a successful conclusion.
“We take very seriously the right of everyone in this borough to live in safe accommodation. Let this be a warning to anyone else who would house people in such conditions that we will not hesitate to prosecute you.”