We can’t stress enough to landlords is that fire safety within an HMO is of the utmost importance and, as a landlord, it’s your responsibility to be aware of fire safety regulations and follow them to the letter.
What are the fire safety requirements in an HMO?
If your property is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) which is subject to licensing, you must also comply with licence conditions in relation to fire safety. The mandatory conditions include a requirement that the landlord installs smoke alarms, keeps them in proper working order, and gives a declaration to the local authority, on request, of their safe condition.
In addition, landlords should:
- make sure that all the gas appliances they provide are maintained in good order and that a ‘Gas Safe’ registered engineer carries out a safety check each year.
- maintain all electrical installations (ie fixed wiring) and any electrical appliances they provide (ie cookers, kettles), and make sure they are safe to use.
- make sure any furniture and furnishings they provide meet the fire resistance regulations.
We recommend that all landlords keep a record of smoke alarm tests. These records will allow you to demonstrate to regulators and enforcers the measures you have taken to adhere to the Fire Safety Regulations for landlords by mitigating and controlling fire risks within your properties.
Fire Doors and Exits
Wherever fire doors are required, we recommend that good quality certificated fire doors are fitted in order to keep a fire adequately contained and to minimise the risk to tenants and damage to the property.
We also recommend that landlords make their tenants aware of the importance of not obstructing or propping open fire doors for their own safety, especially in communal areas.
In most properties, there is no specific regulation in place requiring landlords to provide tenants with a secondary exit in the event of a fire. Landlords are however expected to mitigate the risk of fire, e.g. by making front doors fire retardant.
For HMOs however, landlords should do everything they can (as opposed to the legal minimum) to protect their property and tenants. For HMOs this should include:
- Keeping all exits clear from obstructions
- Clearly marking fire exits and making sure instructions on what to do in case of a fire are clearly available to tenants, ideally displayed on the wall in a communal area.
Fire Extinguishers in HMO’s
Different local authorities may have different regulations regarding fire safety in HMOs, however, according to fire safety guidance provided by LACORS, the body which co-ordinates local authority regulators, it is advised that it’s good practice to provide a facility for extinguishing a small fire in its early stages in common parts of HMOs and buildings containing flats.
It is important to note that unless a fire is very small and manageable, the safest action is to vacate the property and call the fire brigade, rather than tackle the blaze.
Simple foam fire extinguishers, like the Commander Foam extinguisher, or fire blankets are the ideal option.
A fire blanket should be provided in each bedsit with cooking facilities and in shared kitchens. A simple multipurpose foam extinguisher on each floor in the common parts is recommended (and these need to be checked and serviced each year.
At Switch Fire, we work with a number of landlords and letting agents across the south west providing fire safety equipment, fire signage, servicing and advice on fire safety in general.
To find our more or to book your fire extinguisher servicing , call us today