s257 HMO licence and and a few specific questions

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    s257 HMO licence and and a few specific questions

    Hi,

    We have a house converted into 5 flats before 1992 (3 two bed and 2 studios). One two bed flat and one studio are rented out to tenants, another two bed flat has one lodger. The remaining studio and the last two bed flat are 100% owner occupied. 8 people altogether in 7 separate households. No flat on its own is an HMO but the building as a whole is. The flat management company owns the freehold and we are all directors/leaseholders.
    We've only just realized that the company/freeholder needs an HMO licence (oops) so are working through the requirements to make it fully compliant before we can apply for this licence.
    My questions are:
    1) Do the 100% owner occupied flats need an EPC? Does the one with the lodger?
    2) Do the 100% owner occupied flats need a Gas Safety Certificate? Does the one with the lodger?
    3) One studio's front door and the basement flat's front door lead directly onto the street so don't need to be fire doors. Am I correct? The basement flat has another escape route via patio doors leading to the garden.
    4) The other studio flat (mine) has two escape routes, one via the front door which is not a fire door but situated less than 9 metres from the furthest point in the flat. My flat's front door is just behind the communal entrance door at ground level. The other escape route is via two windows both at less than 4.5 meters in height. Both windows are buldings regs compliant in terms of size and height from the floor. Does my flat's door need to be a fire door? If it does, would it be sufficient to install the intumescent strips, fire resistant paint, 3 hinges? It's solid wood.
    5) The top flat and the one below are at a height of more than 4.5 meters so would need the flat doors to be fire doors?
    6) I presume we need an EICR for the whole house including the flats that are 100% owner occupied, is that right?

    Thanks


    #2
    Fire doors aren't there to protect you; they are there to protect the other users of the communal hallways, landings and stairs. As such, the fact that you have another escaper route is irrelevant.

    Comment


      #3
      Not a problem if I have to install a fire door I just wasn't sure what exactly I should do and our Council has cut services so don't offer an advisory service anymore, just enforcement.
      What about the rest?

      Comment


        #4
        The property needs a complete Fire Risk Assessment carried out by a competent person, which will give you the answers to 3-5.
        When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
        Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks jpkeates
          Would it be a good plan to apply for the licence as it is? The Council won't grant it but should give us recommendations and a time frame to carry out the necessary work.

          Comment


            #6
            As you pointed out, all this sort of stuff was de-nationalised, under the euphemism of "de-regulation". Deliberately failing an application to get the council to do a fire risk assessment for you is not going to look good. In any case, they may simply ask to see your fire risk assessment.

            Comment


              #7
              Back to Plan A then which was read every single guideline I can find

              Comment


                #8
                For a section 257 HMO, you should be employing a professional fire safety consultant. It is not a legal requirement, but the person does have to be competent, and, in general, ordinary people would need to over engineer the solution to be sure that they are safe. Even then, some over-engineering can actually be unsafe, e.g. fire extinguishers without proper training.

                The main reason you should do your own research is so that you can sanity check the consultant's report and make sure they haven't overlooked anything.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Phalk67 View Post
                  Thanks jpkeates
                  Would it be a good plan to apply for the licence as it is? The Council won't grant it but should give us recommendations and a time frame to carry out the necessary work.
                  That's a hell of a risk.

                  You have people living there and are in breach of a load of regulations.
                  What would you do if the council declare the whole place unsafe and shut it down for 6 months?

                  You're meant to have done this stuff already, so you need to get it done asap.
                  When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                  Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Thanks leaseholder64.
                    Yes, I did read that fire safety consultants tend to go overboard with recommendations to cover themselves.
                    Our priorities are the fire doors and the electrics as far as I can tell. An electrician is coming out to do some unrelated work so it would be a good opportunity to ask him to have a good look.
                    Btw, our "responsible" person is the one who needs a sanity check, still thinks we are not an HMO...

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Jpkeates,

                      Yes, I realize we are in breach of a load of regulations and that's why I'm on here now. Our "responsible" person is burying his head in the sand unfortunately.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I assume you are in an additional licensing area where the Council are applying the rules to s257 HMOs, as they don't require a mandatory licence?

                        Your building probably qualifies as a s257 HMO if you know it was converted before 1992 and as it is only three fifths owner occupied, although my understanding is that it is for the Council to prove this, which may not be as straightforward as it sounds. I believe that the default requirement for a s257 HMO is a fire safety assessment for the communal parts only. That's likely to mean fire doors to the flats and probably a metal casing for any fuseboxes in the hallway but may not be much more than that in practice. It may depend on number of stories, other escape routes etc. I agree with other contributors that it will need a professional risk assessment though.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Thanks DPT57,

                          Quick description of house, detatched, all flats are self contained have own kitchens and bathrooms.

                          Basement level: one flat, one owner occupier
                          Ground level: Two studios, one rented out to one tenant, other studio owner occupied by one couple
                          First floor: One flat rented out to two sharers (unrelated and not partners)
                          Second floor: one owner occupier and one lodger (unrelated and not partners)

                          Total number of people in building: 8
                          Total number of households: 7

                          Definitely converted before 1992, the lease dates to 1985.

                          Our Council (Greenwich) operates an additional licensing scheme where every HMO needs a licence. I THINK we are an HMO because of the number of people and households living there is above 5 and 2. I THINK we are a s257 HMO because 3/5 of the flats have tenants/lodgers.
                          For those two reasons I think we need a licence.

                          Good to hear about the default requirement, if it's the communal part only, it's not too bad and the responsible person has finally extracted his head from the sand.


                          Comment


                            #14
                            Don't forget the 3rd criteria for s257 HMO under s257(2)(a) 'building work undertaken in connection with the conversion did not comply with the appropriate building standards and still does not comply with them'.

                            I think that's the tricky bit as you may assume they probably didn't do any more than they had to to meet the previous building regulations but yet it may well have still complied with 1991 regulations.

                            That's the same dilemma I have come up with when trying to work out whether mine is s257 HMO and that is the point I am also stuck at. (I am not the responsible person either but want some fire separation issues looking into which is why I was looking into it.)

                            I *think* that as the council has to declare the property to be a s257 HMO then the council can work that last bit out either from building control records and/or by sending a surveyor round.

                            One of the Wise Elders here will hopefully correct me if I have any of this wrong.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              The council can do that, but my undetstanding is that they often dont because it can be costly and difficult to prove, (eg soundproofing between floors), so unless there are very comprehensive building control records a landlord can often just assert that they dont accept its a s257 and the Council backs down. Ive never actually been in a position to test this though

                              Comment

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