Why HMOs need a fire risk assessment
Landlords of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) need a fire risk assessment to highlight hazards within their properties harbour, as well as to provide protection in a court of law should an incident occur.
What is an HMO?
Firstly, it is worth outlining what an HMO covers.
A property is an HMO if you let, or intend to let, to a minimum of three tenants who comprise more than one household and who share bathroom, kitchen and/or toilet facilities.
Moreover, large HMOs, with three or more storeys, or five or more tenants forming more than one household, require an HMO licence.
In certain areas, local authorities will also require small HMOs or all HMOs to carry a licence, and to determine whether your property is obliged to be licensed for use as HMOs, you should contact your local authorities.
Furthermore, if your application for an HMO licence is refused, you can appeal to a Residential Property Tribunal, although your local council should try to resolve the situation first.
HMOs and fire risk assessments
Once you have established that your property is indeed an HMO, it is necessary for you to produce a fire risk assessment
A fire risk assessment is not only relevant to HMOs, but should also be drawn up by offices, shops, community halls, hotels, sports centres and various other commercial facilities.
Effectively, the assessment should identify and reduce the risks posed to staff, guests and visitors from fire, and as already mentioned; it also gives landlords greater legal protection if an accident does happen.
Why HMOs legally need a fire risk assessment
Under the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, HMOs are required to undertake fire risk assessment.
Landlords are not expected to train tenants in fire safety, this is merely a document to outline where the hazards lie and how they can be avoided.
What information can you expect to include?
There are some simple steps to begin with that include the property address, assessment date, completed by and date reviewed headings.
From there you will be required to elaborate on four main areas.
These are identifying a list of hazards, who could be harmed, whether the risk is appropriately controlled and what further action is needed to control the risk.
Identifying fire hazards
The first action you will be required to take when undergoing a fire risk assessment is to make your way carefully throughout the property noting all its potential hazards and dangers, such as sources of fuel where ignition of a flame could occur.
Next, determine whether other hazards would obstruct someone's exit should a fire break out, such as wires or other obstacles that might trip them up.
Consider how this risk could be reduced - for example, if it is an old gas cooker, might it be safer to update it with a new model? And if there are obstacles, such as loose wires, is it possible to clear them out of harm's way?
Afterwards, consider who is most at risk from this hazard.
Note down what preventative strategies you have taken to curb the risk to prevent hazards also mention where information about the risk can be found. It is also worth including the location of safety necessities like fire extinguishers, fire blankets and first aid kits.
If you have discussed the risk with a tenant or inspector, write down any points about the risk that has arose from the meeting.
Complete the fire risk assessment by detailing what future action you intend to take to further reduce the risk.
From there, repeat the procedure for every following risk or hazard you identify throughout the property.
OJ Health and Safety undertake fire risk assessments in all areas around the United Kingdom along with many other related safety services including asbestos surveys and fire extinguisher installation and maintenance. Complete the below form or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01924 261789 for more details.