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HMO safety requirements

The Council inspect properties that it identifies as being a potential house in multiple occupation (HMO). If conditions in the properties inspected are not up to standard, the landlord or owner is required to improve them.

What is a Multiple Occupancy Home?

Under the Housing Act 2004 the following types of property are all defined as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO):

  • An entire house or flat which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.
  • A house which has been converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation and which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities.
  • A converted house which contains one or more flats, which are not wholly self-contained (i.e. the flat does not contain within it a kitchen, bathroom and toilet) and which is occupied by three or more tenants who form two or more households.
  • A building, which is converted entirely into self-contained flats if the conversion did not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations and more than one-third of the flats, are let on short-term tenancies.

In order to be a HMO, the property must be used as the tenants’ only or main residence and it should be used solely or mainly to house tenants.  Properties let to students and migrant workers will be treated as their only or main residence and the same will apply to properties, which are used as domestic refuges.

 There is a requirement for some types of HMO to be licensed.

If the Council is concerned a property is an HMO, an inspection will take place to determine how safe the property is for residing or proposed tenants. One of the most important factors when conducting an inspection is to ensure the property has full fire protection facilities.

 

Fire safety inspections in a HMO

HMO's pose a greater risk to the health and safety of people living in them. Very often, people who live in HMO's do not know who else lives in the same building with them, and the risks of fire and infection are therefore increased. HMO fire safety is therefore an important part of our inspection and consideration will be given to Lacors fire safety guidance, which states:

  • All HMOs of 3 storeys or more should have a panel controlled automatic fire alarm and detection system covering all parts of the premises, that is rooms, halls and stairs, kitchens etc.
  • All HMOs of 2 storeys should have a simpler system, but it should cover the same areas, all rooms, halls and stairs and kitchens. These systems do not have panel control but all the units are linked together so everyone is protected.
  • All self contained flats whether in a converted building or purpose built should have a fire alarm and detection system that covers each individual flat and may also be provided in the stairs and hallways.
  • All rented houses should have at least 1 smoke alarm positioned on each landing level of the stairs, so a 2 story house would have 2 alarms.
  • Most houses that are converted into self-contained flats will also require emergency lighting.
  • All fire alarm and detection systems require testing and maintenance.

 

Management of HMO's

A HMO inspection must be managed by a 'fit and proper' person and there are Management Regulations which set out the way in which such properties should be managed these are: 

 

If you require any further information please contact the private sector housing department by:

Telephoning: 01744 676789

Emailing: contactcentre@sthelens.gov.uk

Writing to: Peoples Services, Private Housing Initiatives, Town Hall, St Helens. WA10 1HP