Sunderland Housing Company Ltd, now trading as Gentoo Group Ltd, was fined at Newcastle Crown Court after an 80-year-old Penshaw tenant died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused because the chimney for his coal fire was not swept. The fines and costs of £65,000 were justified because the landlord, according to the judge, was responsible for a “continuing systemic failure rather than an isolated breach”.
After the case, HSE Principal Inspector Bruno Porter said: “The risk of dying from carbon monoxide exposure caused by a faulty solid fuel appliance is estimated to be up to ten times higher than that from a gas appliance but the risks are generally not as well known. The appliance needs to be installed and maintained correctly, and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Landlords and providers of social housing must make sure that solid fuel appliances are regularly maintained – chimneys must be swept regularly and they must make sure the tenant is capable of, and is actually carrying out, any safety-critical cleaning.”