INSPECTORS found fire hazards and a lack of smoke detectors when they visited a house of multiple occupation in Pinehurst, magistrates heard.

The property in Limes Avenue was visited several times by council officers between January 2015 and June this year, following complaints from the lettings officer.

Prosecutor Phil Wirth said they found a property in some disrepair on their first visit. Subsequent visits following a further complaint found missing fire doors, holes in walls, the lack of an escape route from a ground floor bedroom and inadequate fire resistance between rooms.

Building materials, trip hazards and badly fitted fire doors were also revealed.

Registered owner Lillie Goddard, admitted failing to comply with an improvement notice to carry out remedial work and failing to comply with a prohibition order by using a rear ground floor room as a bedroom.

Mr Wirth said Goddard told officials she lived part of the time at the semi-detached property with her boyfriend, her two children, her mother and a lodger.

But a warrant executed in June revealed she and her children were not there and that the improvement notice had not been complied with.

In interview under caution she said she was a qualified electrician and was working hard to get the money together for the improvements.

Much of the work had been done but was not finished because she didn’t have the money to do it. She had large debts, no housing benefit and no income support.

The court case had been brought after a lot of time spent trying to get compliance and the investigation had cost environmental health almost £1,340 while the legal costs were nearly £1,650.

Defence solicitor Terry McCarthy said the property was no longer a house in multiple occupation and only the defendant, her children and mother were there.

It had been bought with the proceeds of a property in Hungary and the defendant was the registered owner because her mother was too old to get a mortgage.

“They thought they could support the mortgage by letting the property and were not aware of the requirements,” he said.

At the moment her only income was child benefit and tax credit but she was registered for work.

Goddard told the bench she had been pregnant at the time and suffered complications, meaning she could not work. But she had been to three interviews and was expecting work to pick up in March.

The magistrates fined her £250 for each of the charges because of her financial circumstances, but ordered her to pay £2,987.50 costs.