TWO landlords have been ordered by a court to pay a total of more than £16,000 after they rented out a home in Chard that was deemed unsafe.

Alistair Gordon, 54, from Ranelagh Road, Weymouth, and Ralph Richardo, 35, of Shafton Crescent, Dorchester, admitted breaching a prohibition order and asked for a similar offence to be taken into consideration.

They were both fined £4,000 with £4,000 costs and £15 victim surcharge at Taunton Crown Court.

Oliver Carlyon, prosecuting, said Gordon and Richardo requested a fire service inspection of two properties in Hope Terrace in April 2008, when several defects were noticed.

A prohibition order – meaning they could not be rented out – was slapped on the buildings after another inspection revealed there were still issues, including an inadequate fire door, only one escape route and inoperable fire extinguishers.

A further visit showed there were 12 people living in one home, although there was no evidence of anyone in the other property.

Inspectors sealed off the property.

Malcolm Gibney, defending, said it was not a case of profit before safety but the landlords had difficulties after buying several additional properties.

Referring to the Chard homes, Mr Gibney said: “They contacted the fire service for reassurance and informal advice.

“Clearly the work wasn’t done to a proper standard.

“They are genuine, hard-working men, not seeking to cut corners.

“They accept they’ve fallen short on this particular occasion.”

Sentencing, Judge Michael Longman said Gordon and Richardo were not unscrupulous landlords putting profit before safety.

Although they made some attempts to comply with the advice from the fire service, the work was inadequate.