HMOs and Fire Doors – Landlord Safety Tips
A HMO is very different to your traditional buy-to-let property, and the one area that is immediately visibly different is that of fire safety regulations. It is important to understand the strict fire safety regulations for HMOs when comparing it to other options you might have as a property developer with a view to letting out domestic apartments to tenants, and what you will need to provide and adhere to in order to comply with the law. On a basic level, fire safety is always common sense though, so we’ve put together a quick guide to point out the differences between a HMO and a traditional buy-to-let property.
A House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) brings with it a few more aspects to consider than a normal buy-to-let property, which are quite often a straightforward investment for investors. The fire regulations and the general health and safety rules surrounding a HMO are much more detailed than with a normal buy-to-let property, and there is more for a HMP property owner to do before the building is deemed up to standard.
One of the biggest reasons a HMO requires stricter fire regulations is that there is no indication that the tenants within a HMO will ever interact with each other and integrate as they would in a normal house or apartment share situation. In the vast majority of cases a property that has been turned into a HMO will have tenants living inside that do not even see their neighbours on a regular basis, and quite often have no relationship with each other to speak of. What this means is that rooms are locked, which leads to harder escape routes in the event of a fire.
Your local authority will have an HMP Enforcement Officer with the authority to ensure all HMOs in that area meet the required legal fire safety standards. If you are about to develop a property with a view to turning it into a HMO, or you are buying an existing HMO it is vital that you speak to your local enforcement officer as early in the process as possible. That way you can build a true and full understanding of exactly what is required of you to meet the standards set. It can be daunting (especially if you worry about a long and expensive list of alterations being provided to you), but the priority should always be safety.
Fire doors are always an essential part of fire safety within a House in Multiple Occupancy. The rule for a landlord is that you must make sure that every single possible escape route in the building is kept protected. There should be a fire door at every entry point on the property site, two fire doors in the kitchen, and a fire door in a communal lounge, with fire doors installed for the entrance of each self-contained apartment within a building. Fire safety is no joke and you should do everything in your power to ensure your HMO meets the strict standards set out, prior to letting out your property to new tenants.