Fire safety in houses in multiple occupation

There are specific fire safety laws covering HMOs. An HMO could be:

  • a hostel
  • a house split into separate bed sits
  • a house or flat share, where people have separate or joint tenancy agreements
  • a bed and breakfast or hotel which is not just for holidays.

If you fail to comply with your fire safety responsibilities, your local council or Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service may get involved and can inspect the property to see if you are complying with the law. They may write to you or the managing agent, setting out what needs to be done including any necessary repairs. They may serve a legal notice and could even prosecute.

Safety equipment

As an HMO landlord you must ensure there are adequate fire precautions, including:

  • fire warning systems (for example, fire alarms and heat or smoke detectors)
  • extinguishers
  • fire blankets
  • fire escape routes

These must be well maintained and adequate for the number of residents and the size of the property.

Fire warning systems must be placed throughout the building, particularly in escape routes and areas of high risk (for example, kitchens). The fire warning system should be serviced and checked regularly.

There must be a minimum of one fire extinguisher on each floor and a fire blanket in every kitchen. These must be checked periodically and the correct sort of extinguisher must be provided.

Means of escape

HMOs must have an escape route that can resist fire, smoke and fumes long enough for everyone to leave (usually at least 30 minutes). This could be:

  • internal stairs, corridors or walkways that are specially constructed or treated to resist fire
  • external fire escapes (if there are no other means available).

All the walls, ceilings, floors and partitions along the escape route must be fire resistant.

All the doors leading to the escape route must be fire resistant and must close automatically.