Torquay Airbnb landlord 'flagrantly put guests at risk'

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Exeter Crown Court
Image caption,
Exeter Crown Court heard fire safety conditions at the house were "intolerable"

An Airbnb landlord "flagrantly" put dozens of guests at risk from fire in a party house and stopped firefighters from inspecting it.

Adrian Knott, 50, let the house in Torquay to up to 23 people at a time for £4,000 a weekend despite knowing it was unsafe, Exeter Crown Court heard.

Knott previously admitted four counts of failing to comply with safety regulations.

He was ordered to pay almost £33,000 in fines and costs.

Landlord and mortgage broker Knott let out Woodend Seaside Villa, in Lincombe Drive, which has a pool and spa, by advertising it on Airbnb and other internet sites from August 2017.

It was still rented to groups for weekends even after a report he commissioned in June 2018 described its condition as "intolerable", the court was told.

No escape routes

He promised Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service he would stop letting it out until it was inspected, but he made excuses to delay a visit until a spot check in July 2018 found a party of 15 there, the court heard.

David Sapiecha, prosecuting for the fire service, said officers found no proper escape routes, leading to the danger that anyone trying to escape would "get lost in dead ends and panic".

Sentencing, Judge Peter Johnson said Knott "flagrantly put at risk" people's safety with his "desire to make money".

David Morgan, defending, said Knott had wanted to not disappoint customers and there had never been any actual fire or near miss.

The house, valued at £1.25m, had also been made safe, he said.

Knott was fined £24,000 with £9,218 costs and ordered to do 160 hours unpaid work.

Airbnb said on it website hosts were required to follow laws and other rules "that apply to your specific circumstances and locale".

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