House in Multiple Occupation

Fire Risk Assessments in Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO)

A House in Multiple Occupation or HMO is a building that is occupied by more than 3 people as a main residence and who form more than one single household and share facilities like a bathroom or kitchen.

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) needs a MANDATORY license when:

  • It is rented to 5 or more people who form more than 1 household
  • Tenants share some amenities like toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities
House in Multiple Occupation requiring License with Room to Let sign.Room to Let in house

Letting a licensable HMO without a license

Letting a licensable HMO without a license when the law requires it could land the owner, agent or landlord with criminal prosecution and record, an unlimited fine, and an order to pay court costs and a victim surcharge.

Alternatively, the council could issue a civil penalty of up to £30,000 and a rent repayment order of up to 12 months’ rental income to the council, tenants or former tenants.

If you are the person responsible for completing the Fire Risk Assessment and decide you are unable to apply the guidance or complete the risk assessment, you should seek expert advice.

We can undertake a Fire Risk Assessment which would assist in complying with the requirements of both the Housing Act 2004, and supporting Housing, Health and Safety Rating System, and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The Fire Risk Assessment should be completed in conjunction with the LACORS document ‘Housing – Fire Safety Guidance on fire safety provisions for certain types of existing housing

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Fire safety within the home is an extremely important issue, especially in mixed-use premises and where unrelated occupiers, who live independently from one another, share common areas of the same building. This area of law is covered by the Housing Act 2004 and the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 inside the dwelling and for the common areas, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (2005).

Legislation requires that landlords carry out Fire Risk Assessments in all common areas of properties. The objective is to identify and evaluate all fire risks to which ‘relevant people’ are exposed and decide if anything can be done to minimise or remove that risk in due course creating a ‘suitable and sufficient’ Fire Risk Assessment. Whilst the legislation does not define suitable and sufficient it is generally considered that a risk assessment should following the five-step approach.

Relevant people are those who are legally allowed on the premises, e.g. staff, visitors, residents, contractors, etc.

The overall aim of a Fire Risk Assessment is to reduce the likelihood of fire, limit the spread of fire, and ensure that people know about a fire and can escape. A Fire Risk Assessment should systematically identify all fire-related hazards within the premises and evaluate how those hazards may adversely affect the building and its occupants. It should identify the level of risk that those hazards may present and also identify suitable control measures for any significant findings. It is often best done by a fire safety professional, particularly if you have HMO properties or a large portfolio.

Legislation requires that landlords carry out Fire Risk Assessments in all areas of their properties. This process will identify any fire hazards and who is at risk and decide if anything needs to be done to remove or reduce that risk.

When renting a property for its business, a tenant must carry out a health and safety risk assessment in the workplace and take action to remove any hazards. …

The landlord is responsible for any aspects of health and safety relating to communal areas defined in the lease.

Anyone who lets a property to others is under a general duty in law to provide accommodation that is fit for the purpose and safe. However, there is a body of legislation that relates specifically to fire safety in HMO’s

• The Housing Act 2004 contains the powers which enable Councils to take action where a range of housing hazards, including the risk of fire, occur. The Act also lays down the licensing requirements for larger HMO’s. It also enables Councils to take control of HMO’s where they seriously threaten the health, safety and well-being of occupiers or people in the locality.
• The HMO Management Regulations place duties on the manager of an HMO to keep the fabric, fixtures and fittings in good order, ensure that occupiers are protected from injury and supply and maintain gas, electricity and other services.
• The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (2005) requires any person with some level of control over HMO (‘Responsible Person’) to – take reasonable steps to reduce risk from fire – Make sure anyone in the property can safely escape if a fire occurs. The ‘Responsible Person’ can pass the task to some other competent person (although the ‘Responsible Person’ retains the duty to meet its requirements).

The first step in meeting the legislative requirements is to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment. This will identify the potential fire risks in the HMO and forms the basis for action to improve fire safety.

Landlords should ensure that front doors of flats and communal areas (like corridors and staircases) have self-closing fire doors installed and it’s advised that fire doors are also fitted to high-risk rooms, such as the kitchen. These are designed to stop the spread of fires and should not be held open. Landlords should also ensure that fire exits and escape routes in their buildings are not blocked and that everyone in the building knows the evacuation plan in case there is a fire (this includes tenants and staff members).

In a single household property, landlords are not required to provide fire extinguishers or fire blankets. However, landlords of HMO’s (Houses in Multiple Occupancy), are required to provide fire blankets in all kitchen areas and at least one fire extinguisher for each storey of the property.

Go to our ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation (2018)‘ page for more Frequently Asked Questions