Epsom and Ewell Borough Council (EEBC) said that two property owners have been fined after they endangered tenant safety.

The two men were both found guilty in separate prosecutions heard at Guildford Magistrates’ Court on Monday, June 3, EEBC said.

One was Frank Hare, who was found guilty of 19 separate breaches of building regulations concerning the illegal conversion of 1 Ewell By-Pass, Ewell into five individual flats.

The breaches mainly related to fire safety, means of escape and lack of smoke detection, EEBC said, while there were also offences relating to inadequate sound insulation and ventilation issues.

Drainage work had also reportedly been undertaken and covered without allowing for the required inspections and approvals.

A spokesperson for EEBC said: "Despite multiple visits and advice from the council building control team, Mr Hare did not remedy the defective works or more importantly clear the flats of the occupants who unbeknown to them were living in hazardous conditions.

"Mr Hare failed to attend court and the magistrates found him guilty of all 19 offences.

"He was fined a total of £7,004 (comprising £440 for each of 13 building regulation offences, £220 for each of six administrative offences, a victim surcharge of £44 and costs of £2,920)."

In a separate prosecution, EEBC said that Chun-Gng Zheng was found guilty of 13 breaches of building regulations at 213A Kingston Road, Ewell.

During a routine food premises inspection, EEBC said that a council environmental health officer discovered two rooms at the takeaway business that had been created for habitation in the roof space.

"There were also number of offences relating fire safety reported, including no fire doors, no self-contained fire lobby, no means of escape or a sufficient smoke detection system.

"The ventilation was totally inadequate, the new floors were inadequate to take the loads and there was no sound insulation between the two floors or between the two new rooms.

"Despite several visits and advice given, the defects were not fully remedied," EEBC said.

Mr Zheng pleaded guilty to all 13 charges and was fined £3,220 (comprising £100 for each of the 13 offences, £30 victim surcharge and costs of £1,890).

Councillor Eber Kington, Chairman of the Council’s Strategy and Resources Committee commented on the case, saying that the council took "no pleasure" in the prosecutions but had acted on behalf of residents in the borough.

"We take no pleasure in taking local residents and business people to court however, when people’s lives are put at risk and our recommendations, warnings and instructions are deliberately disregarded, we will not hesitate to prosecute," Cllr Kingston said.