A LANDLORD whose cheap hotel was a fire trap and an "accident waiting to happen" has appeared in court.

Escape routes at the Waterfront Hotel in Selby were blocked or didn't have proper normal or emergency lighting, fire alarms and fire fighting equipment didn't work and fire doors were either not installed or didn't close properly, said Genevieve Reed, prosecuting for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Fire officers gave landlord Anil Can Altin a legal notice compelling him to make the three-floor building safe, but some months later, he had yet to complete some of the improvements.

"There was a significant risk of danger or personal injury in the event of fire," she said.

Altin, 23, of Johnson Street, Selby, pleaded guilty to five charges of breaching fire safety regulations and was ordered to do 200 hours' unpaid work. His solicitor advocate Kevin Blount told York Crown Court he no longer ran the hotel and had surrendered the lease.

The Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst, said: "Waterfront Hotel was an accident waiting to happen."

He told Altin: " It is quite clear to me you were completely ill equipped to be a landlord of such a property.

"This case should serve as a warning to all landlords to look very carefully at their obligations.

"Because of the lack of natural lighting, it would have been quite impossible for someone to escape from that property without the risk of very serious danger."

Mr Blount said Altin had taken over the hotel business when his brother had been suicidal and had tried to self-harm himself.

The brother had used family money to set up a hotel and takeaway business in the property, but it was losing money, he couldn't cope, and the family asked Altin to take over. But Altin had no business or fire safety knowledge.

The hotel was run on a shoestring and residents kept damaging the fire alarms and other fire safety equipment.

After a while, Altin decided he couldn't afford to keep replacing them, and so didn't.

The family had lost £60,000 to £70,000 before Altin surrendered the lease in January this year and he was still receiving bills through contracts he couldn't get out of.

He now lived on benefits as the carer of his mentally ill mother.

Miss Reed said the hotel had nine rooms including eight on the second and third floors, and charged £70 a week to tenants who were mostly long-term residents.