How safe is your HMO? 

Some of you may have seen the devastating article this weekend; “Six evacuated from HMO as firefighters tackle Hednesford Garage Blaze”

Firefighters spent an hour tackling the blaze at the garage of a HMO on Cannock Road last night.

A small section of the road outside the house remained cordoned off today, with charred furniture left on the pavement and smoke damage clearly visible above the smashed garage windows.

The cordon next to Cannock Road’s junction with Railway View was expected to be in place for most of the day, Staffordshire Police said.

Fire crews from Cannock and Rugeley were the first to arrive at the two-storey house after being called at 11.05pm and were joined by a pump from Chase Terrace and police officers who closed the road.

,The blaze was under control by 11.30pm and out before midnight, a spokesman for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service said. 

The fire was confined to the garage of the eight-bedroom HMO where six people were living. All six occupants were accounted for.

Fire crews remained at the scene damping down the hotspots until leaving the property in the hands of the police and the landlord at around 1.50am.

It is not yet known whether the fire was accidental or suspicious.

Staffordshire Police has been contacted for comment.

News like this, should be a gentle reminder to check – how safe are your HMO’s? One of the biggest challenges for HMO landlords is keeping on top of the legal requirements, especially since they’re updated all the time! Minimum room size regulations, management regulations, gas, electrical and fire safety regulations – the list is endless!

HMO Licenses

According to the GOV webpage on HMOs, you must have a licence if you’re renting out a large HMO in England or Wales. Your property is defined as a large HMO if all of the following apply:

  • it is rented to 5 or more people who form more than 1 household
  • some or all tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities
  • at least 1 tenant pays rent (or their employer pays it for them)

 

HMO Minimum Room Size Regulation

From 1st October 2018, the HMO minimum room sizes regulation will come into force:

  • The floor area of any room in the HMO used as sleeping accommodation by one person aged over 10 years should not be less than 6.51 square metres;
  • The floor area of any room in the HMO used as sleeping accommodation by two persons aged over 10 years should not be less than 10.22 square metres;
  • The floor area of any room in the HMO used as sleeping accommodation by one person aged under 10 years should not less than 4.64 square metres;
  • Any room in the HMO with a floor area of less than 4.64 square metres is not to be used as sleeping accommodation.

 

The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations 2006

The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 & The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Wales) Regulations 2006 impose duties on managers (i.e. landlords) of HMOs to:

  • provide contact details (name, address, and contact telephone number) of the property manager (i.e. landlord) to each household and also the details clearly displayed in a communal area
  • ensure that all means of escape from fire are maintained and kept free from obstruction, all fire precautions are maintained and that steps are taken to protect occupants from injury
  • maintain water supply and drainage
  • ensure annual gas safety checks are carried out (more details further down), and electrical installations are checked every five years (more details further down), and the manager must not unreasonably cause any interruption to gas or electricity supply
  • maintain in repair and keep clean all common parts and installations, and ensure common parts have adequate lighting
  • ensure each unit and furniture are clean at the start of each occupation and maintain the internal structure and installations in each letting
  • provide adequate waste storage facilities and ensure that there is appropriate collection of waste.

 

HMO Gas Safety Regulations

The Gas Safety Regulations 1998 place a statutory duty on all landlords of residential property to ensure that all gas appliances, pipe work and flues are maintained in a safe condition.

An inspection of all gas appliances that is provided with in the property (e.g. cooker, hob etc) by the landlord must be inspected annually by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer. After inspection a warranted Gas Safety Certificate (also known as a CP12) will be issued for proof of inspection; tenants and landlord should keep a copy.

Under the Houses in Multiple Occupation Management Regulations, landlords must be able to provide the current Gas Safety Certificate upon request by the local authority. And for HMOs that require a HMO licence, the landlord will need to provide the Certificate as part of any licence application, and also send the latest copies to the local authority every year.

Here’s a more detailed guide on Landlord Gas Safety.

 

…To find out more information on how you can ensure your HMO is compliant, please get in touch!