TENANTS are being urged to report any safety fears after a landlord appeared in court for allowing someone to sleep in a three-storey property which did not have a fire escape.

City of York Council housing department has called on tenants in houses in multiple occupation (HMO) to contact them if they have any worries about the safety of their homes.

Last November, it closed down Mehmet Altin’s renting operation in Acomb Road, Acomb, because the five rooms he let out above his pizza and kebab business did not have a fire escape. Both housing officers and firefighters were concerned for the safety of people living in them. Altin did not have a landlord’s licence.

When a housing officer returned to the three-storey premises five months later, he found that Altin had defied a prohibition order and had allowed a man to sleep in one of the rooms for a night.

Altin, 36, of Spalding Avenue, Clifton, pleaded guilty to breaching the prohibition order, failing to ensure his tenants’ safety and running a house in multiple occupation without a licence.

York magistrates fined him £3,015 in fines, a Government-imposed victim surcharge and prosecution costs. Ruth Abbott, the council’s housing standards and adaptations manager, said people in the building could have been trapped in the event of a fire.

“We are here to ensure the safety of tenants and other people who live in HMOs and we want to know if people who live in HMO are concerned about their health or safety,” she said.

She said the council tried to work with landlords to ensure their properties were safe, but it could and did take extreme measures if necessary, as it had in this case. The shutdown meant five tenants had been left to find other homes.

Altin could have got a HMO landlord’s licence for five years for £550.

Altin, speaking through an interpreter, told the court he did not understand all the regulations and laws because his English was poor. He had carried out most of the improvements the council had ordered following its officers’ November visit.

He now lived on relatives’ money because his takeaway business had folded and he was going to hand over the Acomb Road premises to its owner.