Guides and Legislation HMO Landlords Should be Aware of
As a landlord of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), there are important regulations and guidelines that you need to be aware of to ensure the safety of your tenants. Fire safety is one of the most critical aspects of HMO management, and there is specific legislation and guidelines for HMOs to ensure all HMO fire regulations are being met. These are:
1. Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO)
The RRFSO is a legislation that applies to all non-domestic properties in England and Wales, including HMOs. The order requires that landlords take necessary measures to reduce the risk of fire and provide means of escape for tenants in case of a fire. The order also requires that fire safety measures are regularly inspected and maintained.
2. Lacors Fire Safety Guide
Lacors, the Local Authority Coordinators of Regulatory Services, provides a comprehensive fire safety guide for HMOs. The guide covers all the fire safety requirements for HMOs and provides practical advice for landlords on how to meet these requirements.
3. Fire Safety Risk Assessment: Sleeping Accommodation
The UK government has published guidelines on fire safety risk assessments for sleeping accommodation, which applies to HMOs. The guidelines provide a step-by-step approach to assess the fire safety of the property, including means of escape, fire detection and alarm systems, and firefighting equipment.
An Overview of HMO Fire Regulations (HMOs)
Fire safety is of utmost importance for HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) properties. To ensure that your HMO is compliant with fire regulations, it is crucial to carry out the following measures:
- Fire Risk Assessment: Conduct a comprehensive fire risk assessment to identify potential fire hazards, assess the fire risk and make recommendations to reduce or eliminate those hazards.
- Fire Doors: Install fire doors with a minimum fire resistance of 30 minutes, which are designed to limit the spread of fire and smoke. Ensure that fire doors have self-closing mechanisms and intumescent strips with smoke seals.
- Escape Windows: Provide windows that can be easily opened as part of escape routes, in case of an emergency.
- Escape Routes: Clearly mark escape routes and ensure they are well-lit, free from obstructions and easily accessible.
- Signs and Notices: Install appropriate fire safety signs and notices, such as fire action notices, emergency lighting signs, fire exits signs, etc.
- PAT testing: Regularly test all portable electrical appliances for safety using a Portable Appliance Tester (PAT).
- Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR): Conduct an EICR to ensure the electrical installation is safe and meets the latest regulations.
- Fire Detection and Alarm Systems: Install fire detection and alarm systems that meet the required fire alarm grade for HMO properties. The most common grades are L1 and L2.
- Automatic Fire Detection System: Ensure that the fire detection system is connected to an automatic fire detection system, which activates the fire alarm and alerts the occupants in case of a fire.
- Emergency Lighting, Firefighting Equipment and Facilities: Install emergency lighting, firefighting equipment and facilities, such as fire blankets and fire extinguishers, to enable occupants to evacuate safely and tackle fires effectively.
- Under the Stairway: Underneath the stairs must be constructed with materials that have a fire-resistant rating of 30 minutes. This encompasses the underside of the ground floor staircase and any door located within the stairway enclosure.
HMO Fire Safety Checklist
By following this HMO Fire Safety Checklist, HMO managers can ensure that their properties meet all relevant fire safety standards and are kept safe for their occupants:
- Fire Risk Assessment: Has a comprehensive fire risk assessment been carried out and is it up to date
- Fire Doors: Are all fire doors installed and do they meet the minimum fire resistance criteria of 30 minutes? Are the doors fitted with self-closing mechanisms and intumescent strips with smoke seals?
- Escape Windows: Are escape windows easily accessible and can they be easily opened as part of escape routes?
- Escape Routes: Are escape routes clearly marked and free from obstructions? Are they well-lit and easily accessible?
- Signs and Notices: Are fire safety signs and notices, such as fire action notices, emergency lighting signs, fire exits signs, etc., displayed in appropriate locations?
- PAT Testing: Have all portable electrical appliances been tested for safety using a Portable Appliance Tester (PAT)?
- Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR): Has an EICR been conducted and are the electrical installations safe and up to the latest regulations?
- Fire Detection and Alarm Systems: Is the fire detection system installed and does it meet the required fire alarm grade for HMO properties?
- Automatic Fire Detection System: Is the fire detection system connected to an automatic fire detection system that alerts the occupants in case of a fire?
- Emergency Lighting, Firefighting Equipment, and Facilities: Is emergency lighting, firefighting equipment, and facilities, such as fire blankets and fire extinguishers, installed and easily accessible?
- Furniture: Is all furniture fire safe and free from potential fire hazards?
- Combustible Materials: Are combustible materials and ignition sources kept separate?
Consequences of Neglecting HMO Fire Safety Regulations
HMO landlords and managers who neglect HMO fire safety regulations put themselves and their tenants at serious risk. Ignoring fire safety regulations can lead to a variety of problems, some of which can have devastating consequences. Here are a few examples:
If a fire breaks out in an HMO that has not been properly equipped or maintained to meet fire safety standards, the landlord or manager could face legal action. This could include lawsuits from injured tenants or the families of victims who have suffered as a result of the fire.
Fines and Penalties
HMO landlords and managers who fail to adhere to fire safety regulations may be subject to fines and penalties from local authorities. These penalties can be substantial, and in some cases, may result in the suspension or revocation of the HMO licence.
An HMO property that is not compliant with fire safety regulations can suffer from damage to its reputation. This can result in a decrease in occupancy levels and a loss of income for the landlord or manager.
Injuries and Loss of Life
The most serious risk of not taking HMO fire safety seriously is the potential for injury or loss of life in a fire. HMO properties that do not have proper fire safety measures in place, such as fire doors, escape routes, and fire detection systems, are much more likely to result in fatalities or serious injuries in the event of a fire.
It is essential that HMO landlords and managers take fire safety seriously and ensure that their properties are equipped and maintained to meet all relevant fire safety regulations.
HMO fire regulations should be the number one priority for HMO landlords, investors, and managers. By following fire safety rules such as outlined in the Regulatory Reform Order, Lacors Fire Safety Guide and Fire Safety Risk Assessment, HMO properties can be kept safe for their occupants, reducing the risk of fire and increasing safety for tenants. Failure to comply with fire safety regulations can result in serious consequences, including fines and even imprisonment.
Contact us today for specialised HMO management and letting services in South London, or if you’re thinking of doing a HMO conversion.