HMO Licence Conditions And Fire Safety

What Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) need a licence and what conditions will apply?

Only larger HMOs require to be licensed under the Mandatory HMO Licensing Scheme. However, Local Authorities can also impose Additional Licensing for other types of HMO. This note deals with conditions which can be imposed in respect of HMOs which are licensed.

For guidance on HMOs see What is an HMO. To decide whether a property is an HMO or needs a licence see our Unique Property Selector.

What conditions will a licence contain regarding fire safety?

Any HMO licence will have a condition attached which requires licence holders to ensure that smoke alarms are installed in the HMO and that these are kept in proper working order. Further, a licence holder can be required to supply the local authority, on demand, with a written declaration by him as to the condition and positioning of such alarms. This declaration does not have to be given by an electrician but, as it is a criminal offence to breach a licence condition if an incorrect declaration is given, the licence holder could be prosecuted. It is intended that the reference to smoke alarms includes a full alarm system.

What other conditions might apply?

Further, when granting an HMO licence, the local authority must satisfy itself that adequate fire precautions facilities and equipment are provided in the HMO of such type number and location as the authority considers necessary. This will mean that fire safety conditions may well be imposed. There is also a requirement for appropriate fire blankets and fire doors in shared kitchens in licensed HMOs. Conditions will be imposed where appropriate to ensure that these precautions/facilities are provided.

I have heard that if the Fire Safety Order applies then any HMO licence conditions relating to fire safety will not apply. Is this right?

Yes, you are right. This is a very complex issue and is due to what is called Article 43 of the Fire Safety Order. Even though licence conditions may be imposed relating to Fire Safety they will not be of effect to those parts of a licensed HMO which are common parts. The conditions still apply, however, to the actual living accommodation.

This means that in the case of HMOs such as bedsits and those non modern building regulation compliant converted blocks of flatswhich are HMOs, any condition is overridden so far as it relates to the common parts. The condition will still be effective in the living accommodation e.g. the bedsit or the flat. This is because the intention is that the landlord should take responsibility for the common parts and carry out a risk assessment and then implement the necessary fire precautions. The last column in the Table under the heading “HMO conditions” identifies those cases where HMO licence conditions do and do not apply. In practice, however, in most cases the level of provision of fire precautions will not vary much irrespective of which particular legislation is applicable.

What about those HMOs which are not licensed?

Where the HMO is not licensed then HMO licence conditions are not relevant but the Fire Safety Order can apply to the common parts of flats bedsits and other similar non self contained accommodation (but not the individual accommodation such as a bedsit or flat).

In deciding what fire safety precaution works may be required, the local authority will take account of the LACORS guidance. For further information about the LACORS guidance, click here

This document was last updated on: 17/05/2007

General Disclaimer

IMPORTANT: Our website (including the Unique Property Selector) can only give general guidance. You always need to specifically check the status of any property individually and take appropriate advice including general guidance from the local authority where it is located.

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