The most important requirement for HMOs is stricter fire safety measures. National statistics show that tenants are at least eight times more likely to die or suffer serious injury from a fire if they live in an HMO. If the HMO is large, the risk is even greater. Historically the real purpose of HMO legislation was to keep people safe from fire.
Today fire is just one of the 29 hazards that apply to all housing under the HHSRS risk rating scheme, so all rented properties are subject to checks to see if fire is a hazard. The government wants to improve housing standards across the board, so local fire services have budgets for Home Fire Safety Checks. Any owner-occupier or family renting accommodation can contact their local service for this and smoke detectors will be installed as part of the service.
HMOs require more complex fire systems, so its down to the landlord to arrange and pay for them. Failing to do this can result in enforcement action and even prosecution. Contact your local Environmental Health Officer for an inspection theyll advise what works you need and set up a consultation with a local fire officer. If theres a lot of work to be done youll need to install temporary emergency detection until the work is carried out.
As an example, a three-storey house would have a full panel controlled smoke detection system in every room (except bathrooms). The property could also have mains-operated detectors, which are interlinked but have no panel. Newer houses and conversions (post 1991) will already have smoke detectors installed, but if you let the house as an HMO you will need to add to the existing system. Individual flats will usually also have mains smoke detection.