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council fire regulations

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We have had correspondence with the council about a house which we were letting to four unconnected individuals on separate room agreements.

While the house was not a licensable HMO we knew that the council could make additional requiremenst which they did, following an inspection, relating to installing many mains operated fire alarms, upgrades of the doors for fire resistance and fire proofing of the stair way to the cellar. However, in his original letter the council man indicated that the house in its current condition was admissable as a family let or shared house - just not as "bed sit" accomodation.

Given the cost and complexity of the work proposed we elected to let the house fall vacant and seek to re-let it either as a family let or a house share under a single agreement which we believed would not require the work.

When we advised the council man of this, we got the email reply pasted below, saying basically we still had to do loads of work.

I want to know if he is right as a search on the internet says the only fire regulations applying to non-HMOs are about furnishings.

"Mrs ONeill,

Thank you for your email.

You have slightly mis-interpreted my letter (which I now realise is ambiguous).

The house needs to be improved if it is to be let either as a shared HMO on a single tenancy agreement or to a single family, but not as much as would be needed if it is let as bed-sits. It is recommended that a mains wired interlinked smoke detection and alarm system is installed in all let property.

A single family dwelling requires a Grade D LD3 system with interlinked smoke detectors in the escape route at all levels and an additional interlinked smoke alarm in the cellar. A shared house HMO also requires a Grade D LD3 system, with additional interlinked smoke alarms in any shared living room and the cellar and a heat detector in the kitchen. In both cases a 30 minute separation is required between the cellar and the ground floor escape route.

It is good practice to provide a fire blanket in the kitchen and a simple multi-purpose fire extinguisher in the hall.

I will be pleased to provide further advice when you know the arrangements for the new tenants."

Specifically I can't see how a "recommendation" that a mains wired alarm be fitted to all rental properties, can by semantic slight of hand lead to a "required" system for a family let.

Or how a simple multi-purpose fire extinguisher is good practice to provide in a hall of a family let with the consequent need for annual checks.

25/09/2012 00:00

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