When it comes to fire regulations, houses of multiple occupants (HMOs) are to be treated entirely separately to other residential properties. They have their own distinct set of guidelines designed to ensure the safety of all occupants. So, for landlords of HMOs, it’s really important that the regulations are fully understood and adhered to.  Here’s everything you need to know.

Understanding HMO Fire Regulations

What is a HMO?

According to the UK Government, your property is a HMO if:

  • at least three tenants from more than one household lives there
  • and they share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants

It’s also worth noting that blocks of self-contained flats can sometimes also be classified as a complete HMO. But this is only the case if the building was converted into flats before 1992 or does not meet the 1991 Building Regulations.

What are the HMO fire safety regulations?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that for all HMOs, maisonettes, and blocks of flats, there must be at least one person responsible for ensuring fire safety compliance in the property. That person’s responsibilities will include:

  • Familiarisation with HMO fire safety regulations
  • Carrying out regular fire risk assessments
  • Ensuring all fire safety measures are in place
  • And providing fire safety information to tenants in a way that is easily understood.

So, lets work through those responsibilities with a HMO fire safety checklist.

HMO Fire safety checklist

HMO Fire Safety Checklist

Fire risk assessments

Fire risk assessments are probably the easiest and most effective means of ensuring that any property has the appropriate fire safety protection. While it is possible to conduct your own fire risk assessments, it’s usually a good idea to arrange a professional assessment in the first instance. This will involve a thorough inspection of your property, assessing everything from potential fire hazards to the placement of smoke detectors and other fire safety equipment. Any remedial action that needs to be taken will either be carried out or have guidance provided. And all findings will be fully recorded, allowing you to use the professional assessment as a basis for your ongoing checks.

Fire safety equipment

The named responsible person for all HMOs is liable for ensuring that the relevant fire safety equipment is provided. This can include:

  • Smoke detectors and fire alarms

Are they fitted? Are they working? Have they received the proper maintenance? And are they tested regularly?

Smoke detectors and fire alarms are one of the most important fire safety tools. And all HMOs must have them. But the installation rules vary according to the size of the property.

  • One and two storey HMOs with a floor space no larger than 200m2, required a Grade D, LD3 alarm.
  • Three-storey HMOs must have EITHER Grade A fire alarms throughout. OR Grade A fire alarms in communal areas, and Grade D LD3 fire alarms in individual spaces.

If you are not familiar with the different fire alarm systems, Grade D alarms are mains-powered with battery backup. Activated by radio signal or wire, they can be installed without a fire alarm panel. Grade A systems are again mains powered with battery backup, but while they have individual smoke/heat detectors and alarm sounders, they also have a central control panel and support equipment, with a backup power source.

  • Fire Doors

All HMOs must have self-closing fire-rated doors with a 30-minute fire resistance criteria. To ensure maximum protection to occupants, the doors must have an intumescent strip on the top and bottom, and a smoke seal. Fire safety instructions must be placed on all fire doors within the property.

  • Fire blanket

All communal kitchen areas are required to have a fire blanket fitted. According to the London Fire Brigade, around 60% of fires in the home start in the kitchen. A fire blanket is usually the most effective means of tackling stove-top blazes quickly and safely.

  • Fire extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are not a legal requirement in HMOs. However, depending on the layout of your property, your fire risk assessment may recommend them in certain areas.

Fire escape routes

Escape routes

Have you identified escape routes from all areas of the building? Are these routes clearly visible, well-lit, and signposted? Have you informed all occupants of the escape routes and provided printed information including the details of escape routes from each person’s living quarters?

Furniture

All furniture provided in HMOs must be fire safe. This can not only help to prevent the spread of any fire that should break out. But can give occupants additional protection and time to escape from the building.

Combustible materials

Where any combustible materials are used or stored on the premises, the responsible person must ensure that they are kept separate from any ignition sources.

Every year over 200 people die and more than 6,000 people are injured in fires occurring in HMO’s. As a property owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your tenants do not add to those statistics. HMO fire safety is incredibly important. Because with the right precautions, these fire events need never happen.

1st Class Fire Protection is an industry-leading fire protection company, with more than 25 years’ experience in the field. Serving customers throughout Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, and the surrounding areas, we provide a range of fire safety services, including fire risk assessment; fire alarm installation, maintenance, and servicing; fire extinguisher installation, testing, and maintenance; emergency lighting installing and servicing; and fire safety training. Get in touch to find out how we could help improve the fire safety standards of your HMO.