What Is the Law on HMO Fire Safety?
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, came into effect and replaced over 70 pieces of fire safety law. HMOs’ are covered by the Regulatory Reform Order, in common parts, (e.g stairs, corridors, shared kitchens, bathrooms and shared lounges etc). As well as this HMO’s also have to adhere to HMO Management Rules & Regulations (2016). Regulation 10 places duty on the individuals managing the property to ensure fire & safety measures are adhered to.
Why Is a Fire Risk Assessment Required?
A fire risk assessment is required to reduce the chance of a fire occurring and to reduce the amount of damage that a fire can cause if it does happen. The assessment will also reduce the chance of death or injury to residents, in the event of a fire, as well as reducing the chance of a fire spreading to adjacent buildings.
How Long Will the the Assessment Take?
The time it takes for the assessment to be carried out will vary depending on the size of the building. However, this will generally take 1, 2 or even 3 hours.
What Is a Fire Risk Assessment?
A fire risk assessment is a report which provides a detailed list of fire risks which are easy to understand. The findings in the report will be summarised in an Executive Summary and the major concerns will be listed in a separate section. An action plan will also be included to assist you with the creation and implementation of a safety plan. The report will satisfy all regulatory requirements and will be accepted for any insurance purposes. If a satisfactory Fire Risk Assessment is not produced at the time of a claim the insurance company can refuse to pay out on the claim.
What Are the Key Points That the Assessment Covers?
There are 5 key points that the assessment will cover:
- Identify the fire hazards
- Identify people at risk
- Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk
- Record, plan, inform, instruct and train (if required)
- Review regularly
What Do I have to Do as the Responsible Person?
In order to comply with the law, you will have to carry out a fire risk assessment, or appoint a competent body/person to carry one out. Following the assessment, you will need to implement the appropriate fire safety measures. This will help you minimise the risk to life in the event of a fire, in your HMO.
Am I the responsible person?
A ‘responsible person’ is the person who has control of the premises (whether the occupier or owner of the premises or not) for the purpose of a trade, business or undertaking (whether or not for profit). In the context of the RRO “owner” means the person receiving the rack rent, or who would receive rack rent if the premises were let on that basis.
By definition in the Act :3. Of this Order under 3(b)(i) “responsible person” means—
“the person who has control of the premises (as occupier or otherwise) in connection with the carrying on by him of a trade, business or other undertaking (for profit or not)”.
Judges have deemed both the managing agent and landlord as the ‘responsible person’, when sentencing is handed out, due to non compliance of the law. See recent court cases, https://safehmo.co.uk/recent-court-cases.
In the eyes of the law, the person carrying out an assessment must prove that he/she is competent to do so. A competent person is to be regarded as a person with sufficient training, experience and knowledge of fire safety, to avoid a fatal injury or death
What Happens If I Do Not Comply with Regulations?
If you don’t comply you are breaking the law. When there is a risk and it has not been managed correctly, the Fire Authorities will have a duty to enforce compliance with the regulations, as well as your local authority, under the Housing Act 2004. This can range from notices being served, unlimited penalties and fines, as well as up to 2 years imprisonment for the responsible person.
Most of the convictions are not because the law wasn’t followed, but more because the wrong advice/confusion has been given , by maybe a builder, architect, or your downloads from the internet.
Ongoing proof, logs recordings etc are all documents that are needed to prove to a judge that you have taken reasonable steps to ensure your tenants are not in danger because of the property’s condition. A ‘reasonable step’ may be to contact a professional to conduct a safety assessment of the property, and keep a record of all of this.
Assessments that relate to endangering lives cannot be made by persons that do not have professional qualifications, or those that do not deal with these rules on a daily basis. There will almost be no underpinning certainty or accountably by such persons if there is a fatal injury or death that results from advice given by a ‘non’ competent person.
How Much Does a Fire Risk Assessment Cost
Our prices start from £199 for a normal terraced house. The assessment will usually last a year, meaning the cost to you will only be 54p per day. However, if there are no major changes in the HMO, the fire risk assessment will be valid for a lot longer, or even when you have only made significant changes to the property.
We are your local friendly Fire Risk Assessment team. Not only will you receive a Fire Risk Assessment but we will also include a complimentary HMO assessment as part of our service. Our team has over 25 years worth of experience in fire risk assessments, and are members of the Fire Industry Association (FIA), as well as the Institute of Fire Safety Managers (IFSM), and our mission is get you compliant with the law.