If you are a landlord and / or property investor who owns a block of flats, or are intending to purchase a property and convert it into flats, then you have to understand that the fire regulations for HMOs – Houses in Multiple Occupation – and the rules around fire safety are stricter and more detailed than for other properties.
One of the reasons for this is that when you have an HMO the tenants won’t necessarily integrate with each other, and they may actually dislike other tenants. Furthermore, there is something that will happen in an HMO that you don’t tend to have in a residential family home, because the doors are not usually locked.
In an HMO the opposite is true, because it can be standard practice, and so this means that in the event of an emergency, locked rooms can mean that there is no quick exit and people may not be able to get out of the building so easily. When undertaking a fire risk assessment for flats, you need to bear this in mind.
Thumb Turn Locks
One thing which can be considered to be essential in an HMO is thumb turn locks, not only on the flat doors and other internal doors, but on the exit doors as well. Even though each tenant may have a key to the exit doors, if a fire breaks out it is very likely that people will panic, and the last thing on their minds may be where they put their keys.
If you have thumb turn locks it means that there is a quick escape route. Indeed, health and safety regulations state that you need to ensure that tenants always have a clear exit route, and thumb turn locks play a big part in this.
When undertaking a fire risk assessment for flats, you need to ensure that all escape routes from the building are protected, and the main way that you do this is by the use of fire doors. Kitchens are a high-risk area, obviously, and these should have fire doors with intumescent strips and door closers.
There are things to take into consideration as well, such as the design of windows. It is necessary to ensure that you have the correct size of windows if this is a primary or secondary means of escape from the building. Of course, you also want your windows to be energy efficient, so a FENSA registered window installation company is a must. Windows that have been fitted since April 1st 2002 must have a FENSA certificate or a building regs certificate.
If you have any uncertainties about what you need in your HMO, then at UK-Fire Risk Assessments we can send a fire risk assessor to check over your property. Using our fire risk assessor will ensure that you know exactly what you need to do in order for your HMO to remain compliant with the law.