How HMO Landlords Are Affected By New Fire Safety Legislation From 23rd January 2023

Hello Readers,

Speaking with a lot of HMO investors, the subject of fire safety and particularly the changes that came into effect on 23rd January this year.

You may recall that back in April 2021 I wrote about potential upcoming changes and unlimited fines for breaches of fire safety, so this really is one to be aware of.

At one of the recent Property Success Network events I host with Steve Maher, Mark Fitchet from Respect Safety provided an incredibly helpful overview of these changes and there does seem to be some degree of confusion about how they apply to HMOs.

This legislation applies to HMOs as they fall into the applicable categories below of how a property needs to be:

  • Residential building with 2 or more domestic premise
  • Building with communal areas,

These changes were made in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire back in 2017 and are aimed at improving fire safety standards in all residential and commercial properties.

A summary of the key changes are how:

  • All residential buildings over 18m in height will be required to have a sprinkler system installed. Buildings between 11m and 18m in height will have to undergo a risk assessment to determine if sprinklers are necessary.
  • Building owners will be required to appoint a “Responsible Person” to oversee fire safety in the building. This person will be responsible for conducting regular risk assessments, implementing fire safety measures.
  • Fire safety information will need to be provided to all residents, including details of the fire safety measures in place, evacuation procedures, and emergency contact information.
  • The new regulations also require all HMOs to have a fire risk assessment conducted by a competent person on a regular basis or if the building undergoes a substantial change. The assessment should identify any potential fire hazards and suggest measures to mitigate the risks. The fire risk assessment also needs to comment about the external elevations if they are combustible, which has not been included in previous assessments.
  • Fire doors must be installed in all properties where necessary, and they must be inspected regularly to ensure that.they remain in a full working order and are not damaged, and this should be record and documented.
  • There are also new requirements for the construction and maintenance of external walls and cladding on high-rise buildings to prevent the spread of fire.

When it comes to HMOs, investors will need to ensure that their properties comply with the new regulations, however, things such as fire doors and fire safety information should really be in a place where HMOs are required to meet licensing standards.

It’s always been best practice for HMOs to have the appropriate fire risk assessments and inspections in place to manage fire safety and health and safety as well as providing tenants with relevant information, however this is now written in law.

Perhaps the biggest change for HMOs is how landlords need to appoint “A Responsible Person” to oversee fire safety. This person will also be the ‘fall guy’ in case of any incidents, so landlords, beware – don’t take on this role lightly!

There are, however, some parts of the new legislation that will not apply to HMO investors. For example, the requirement for sprinklers only applies to buildings over 18m in height (unless you have a high-rise property). Similarly and assessment of the external wall and cladding requirements are aimed at properties over 11 meters, which again are unlikely to be relevant to most HMO properties.

I am in complete agreement with the drive to keep tenants and properties are safe and secure. The challenge here is simply one of grasping the legislation and implementing correctly.

If you are an HMO landlord, as I mentioned above, you will want to take fire safety very seriously as it can ultimately be a risk to life. I can certainly recommend utilising the services of an independent specialist and can recommend Mark Fitchet from Respect Safety, who has a significant amount of experience and knowledge.

What do you think about these changes in legislation? Let me know by connecting on LinkedIn and dropping me a message!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s