Non-mandatory HMO requirements confusion

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    Non-mandatory HMO requirements confusion

    Preparing our 4 bedroom / 3 storey house for rental and asked the local council for guidance on what would be needed to rent to 4 sharers.

    Council confirmed that it will be a 'non-mandatory' HMO - ie. does not need a licence.

    When I've asked the question about what's needed for the house, 2 separate people at the council now have given 2 different answers!

    1st person told us that we'd need mains interlinked smoke alarms and FD30 fire doors in every room in the house (all rooms except toilet and bathroom)..

    However when we spoke to the senior person in the council team, they said that we'd just need:

    1 x fire door (kitchen)
    1 x mains interlinked heat alarm (kitchen)
    3 x mains interlinked smoke alarms (ground floor hallway / each landing level)
    1 x fire blanket (kitchen)
    1 x co2 extinguisher (kitchen)

    This is verbatim what they've told us but does it sound right?

    Confused!

    #2
    Those two individuals should be fired (no pun intended).

    You are required to arrange (or carry out if qualified) a formal fire risk assessment and then implement its findings.
    Every property is different and many private residential properties require modification to be safely inhabited by non-connected people.

    You'll definitely need a hard-wired fire alarm system, probably with heat sensors in the kitchen.
    The doors will probably all need to be upgraded, but that's what the assessment is for.

    There are a number of legal requirements associated with HMOs which apply whether they're licensed or not and you should be aware of and compliant with all of them before even considering renting to sharers.

    You'll need a formal electrical inspection and sign off, for example.
    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).

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      #3
      I'd specifically question the advice to include a CO2 extinguisher. If you do have to include that, you will need to train all the tenants in how to use it.

      Comment


        #4
        I think it is interlinked heat sensor in kitchen, interlinked smoke alarm on each landing (not sure about each bedroom, I have seen both so trhere must be a reason for the difference); fire doors protecting the escape route/s plus kitchen. So bedroom and sitting room doors, bathrooms are excluded, I think.

        CO2 extinguisher seems odd! Powder and a blanket is what I look for, if asked. Did you mis hear CO alarm? Legally rquired for solid fuel burning appliances in single family homes, required in all "high risk" HMO rooms - like kitchen, wherever the boiler is, if gas!

        Thumb locks on doors; fire labels on soft furnishings, etc etc

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Stef Cooke View Post
          Did you mis hear CO alarm?
          Sadly not!

          I asked the council to confirm it all to me in writing via email so that requirements list I mentioned in my original post was taken directly from their email.

          Rather annoying that even they seem confused and are dishing out conflicting advice (although not as bad as the lettings agent who was adamant that all I'd need is a battery-operated fire alarm on each level!)

          Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
          You are required to arrange (or carry out if qualified) a formal fire risk assessment and then implement its findings.
          Thanks. Yes I'm going to arrange one of these, as right now I'm still somewhat unsure of the exact requirements that need to be done.

          Depending on what the assessor says and the costs, I'll decide whether I proceed or I just rent it as single household property (obviously still doing whatever works are needed to meet the safety standards for a single household, but that won't be anywhere near as much work as for the non-mandatory HMO).

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by baracus View Post
            Preparing our 4 bedroom / 3 storey house for rental and asked the local council for guidance on what would be needed to rent to 4 sharers.
            There are some written guidelines by the Homestamp consortium https://homestamp.com
            Once on their site I would look at the downloads page and specifically the LACOURS guidance. You will also find guidance for fire protection and escape routes; you can download ' A Guide to Fire Protection in Multi-Occupied Residential Properties which gives some house layouts with work needed to make different configuration of houses comply with LA standards.

            Comment


              #7
              Thanks, yes I'd been looking at the LACORS document as their guidance seems to be the wisest safety level to meet, so I've just decided to ignore the council and instead get the house up to the appropriate LACORS standard instead... better to be safe than sorry.

              Comment


                #8
                These regulations aren't practical for all houses- in areas of the country where space is at a premium, some kitchens are so limited in terms of size that they were built with an open doorway because there's no space for a door without seriously ruining usability of the kitchen. Surely a decent fire alarm in the hallway would do?

                As for mains connected fire alarms, for houses built pre-1900, many of the walls don't have space inside for wires so it would be hugely expensive & time consuming to have one installed. It makes sense for those cheap fire alarms that die every year or so, but nowadays many smart fire alarms (£100 +) have batteries rated for years, possibly even decades, they also notify everyone's phones in the event of smoke or fire as well as the alarm, and they'd notify your mobile phone if they're even within a few months of the battery failing. It seems over-kill and inflexible in those cases.

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                  #9
                  Fire alarms can be fed from light fitting and interlinked via radiolink. The extra cost of radio-bases gets saved on labour.

                  The reason they are interlinked is to allow everyone a chance to escape via the protected escape route. Stand alones dont cut the mustard, whether they talk to your phone or not.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    If it is not practicable to avoid having a kitchen open to an escape route, the property is not suitable as an HMO. In a single family home, people should avoid high risk cooking when people are asleep, and parents will try to rescue children. That's not true in an HMO, which is why the regulations are much more strict.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by leaseholder64 View Post
                      In a single family home, people should avoid high risk cooking when people are asleep, and parents will try to rescue children. That's not true in an HMO, which is why the regulations are much more strict.
                      That's not necessarily true. HMOs don't usually contain children. Also, I know plenty of family members who cook when people are asleep and I also know plenty of HMOs where the tenants would rescue each other.

                      Originally posted by andybenw View Post
                      The reason they are interlinked is to allow everyone a chance to escape via the protected escape route. Stand alones dont cut the mustard, whether they talk to your phone or not.
                      I didn't say they aren't interlinked with each other or mention the word stand alone- I said many smart fire alarms have additional features the authorities aren't up to date with, such as batteries that last many years or decades, not to mention a wifi connection & detection of monoxide as well as various types of smart fire detection. You also can't assume that one firm alarm wouldn't be heard throughout the house. There are plenty of houses where a fire alarm downstairs would wake up every living thing upstairs, and vice versa.

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