Woman who advertised ‘deathtrap’ on Airbnb told to pay almost £6,000
A woman advertised a deathtrap holiday home on Airbnb when she breached fire regulations with toxic tiles, no emergency lighting, the wrong locks and a fire extinguisher that hadn’t been tested in 15 years.
Jean Hendy, 64, also failed to put batteries in the smoke alarms of the three-storey house, and didn’t take action when she was warned by council officers.
Judge Ian Lawrie told her: “You have created the risk of a potential death trap if fire ever broke out.
“Whenever you rent out a property in whatever circumstances there is a clear obligation to ensure the fire safety of everyone. There is certainly a risk of cost-cutting at the expense of safety.”
But he suspended her prison sentence because of her ill health, her guilty plea and lack of previous convictions.
The court heard that she had since sold her former home, reports plymouthherald.
Hendy, of Woodlands Court, West Park, Plymouth pleaded guilty to six breaches of fire safety regulations on or before August 8 last year.
The court heard that officers from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service inspected the three-storey property in Duke Street, Devonport on August 8 last year after contact from Plymouth City Council and a complaint from a member of the public.
Hendy occupied the ground floor and advertised the use of the upper floors on a number of recognised holiday hosting websites, offering sleeping accommodation for up to nine people.
Fire inspectors found there was a lack of a suitable automatic fire detection and warning system and inappropriate storage of bedding and other combustible materials at the base of the single staircase. There was also a lack of emergency lighting.
The court heard that polystyrene tiles could have given off toxic fumes in the event of a fire.
Nick Lewin, for Hendy, said a lot of people advertised homes on Airbnb with “complete and utter ignorance of fire regulations”.
He added his client had had a difficult life and had struggled but succeeded in bringing up her children well.
The barrister said she had devoted free time to charity and her friends.
Mr Lewin said she had been forced to sell the property and had lost about £45,000 on the asking price.
Hendy was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months. She must pay £5,580 prosecution costs and £115 victim surcharge.
Group Manager Paul Bray, Business Safety Manager for Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, said after the case: “Anyone who has or is thinking of turning their home into a business providing sleeping accommodation has a duty to ensure the people staying on their premises will be kept safe.”
A spokesman for Airbnb said: “”This listing was removed from Airbnb last year and we have blocked it from returning. The safety of our community is our top priority and we have worked with the Chief Fire Officers Association on clear safety guidance for people who share their homes. There have been over 200 million guest arrivals on Airbnb and problems for hosts and guests are extremely rare.”