A ROGUE landlord was jailed today after he endangered the lives of his tenants by failing to carry out essential fire and safety maintenance, a court heard.

Tenants were left without working fire alarms, smoke detectors and firefighting equipment in the flats on Zinzan Street, Reading.

A washing machine on the mezzanine floor blocked escape routes for the second and third floor flats.

During the investigation the fire service also discovered blocked fire escapes, communal electrical items that had not been certified and trip hazardous carpets.

Concerned for the welfare of the tenants, Reading Borough Council instructed the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service to conduct a full investigation of the property in November last year.

Landlord of 30 years, Ishaq Hussein, 58, was served an enforcement notice which required all the breaches to be rectified within six months.

He appeared in the dock at Reading Crown Court after admitting to 12 breaches of fire safety regulations.

Carl May-Smith, prosecuting, said that the key concern was the lack of working fire alarms or smoke detectors in the communal areas of the property.

He said: "There was also a washing machine on the mezzanine floor, blocking fire escape routes for the tenants in the upstairs flats.

"The fire service had to fit battery operated fire alarms and smoke detectors and informed tenants of basic fire safety training."

Defending, John Simmons said that a period of emotional stress and financial difficulty, and difficult tenants had distracted Hussein from his responsibilities.

He said: "He took his eye off the ball. He says that he was not well. There was the trauma of his family situation and he did not pay sufficient attention to the property and therein lies the criminality."

"The tenants in the property were people who unfortunately did not respect in anyway the property."

Judge Alexia Durran, said that Hussein's experience as a landlord and his blatant disregard for the particular property had forced her to send him to prison.

She said: "The consequences to the occupants could have been devastating either because they did not have significant warning of a fire, or if they did they would be unable able to escape.

"I am dealing with a case with a number of breaches and those breaches persisted for some significant period of time by a landlord of some considerable experience.

"It seems to me you were putting profit before safety. In some of these offences your failure to pay for the electricity that would have fed to the alarms in the communal area and to invest in new carpets on the upstairs floors indicates that you had put cost saving before safety, something that does not seem to apply to your other properties."

Hussein, of Hazel Road, Purley-on-Thames, admitted to 12 breaches of fire safety regulations. He was sentenced to four months imprisonment concurrent on each count.

He was also ordered to pay costs of £9,876.07.