The ac­ci­den­tal land­lord

Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Homes and Property - - Lettting On -

LIKE most land­lords, I would do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to keep my ten­ants safe. How­ever, I can’t say hand on heart that I have com­plied with all the fire safety reg­u­la­tions that ap­ply to one of my prop­er­ties — be­cause the reg­u­la­tions them­selves are so darned con­fus­ing.

The prop­erty caus­ing me con­cern is a four-bed­room du­plex that was pre­vi­ously let to a group of friends on a sin­gle ten­ancy agree­ment and is now let to four shar­ers on in­di­vid­ual con­tracts. It is, there­fore, la­belled as a house in mul­ti­ple oc­cu­pa­tion — an HMO — and as such re­quires me to take greater fire pre­cau­tions than if it were let as a sin­gle unit.

But what ex­tra fire pre­cau­tions do I need to take? Ob­vi­ously I have smoke alarms on both floors, which has been a re­quire­ment in all rental prop­er­ties since Oc­to­ber 2015, but I am not sure these are enough both to com­ply with the law re­gard­ing non-li­censed HMOs and to give my ten­ants enough warn­ing in the event of a fire.

I have spent hours trawl­ing the in­ter­net for in­for­ma­tion and por­ing over of­fi­cial fire safety guid­ance, but I still can’t work out whether these alarms should be re­placed with more ex­pen­sive mains-op­er­ated ones, which avoids the risk of ten­ants re­mov­ing or for­get­ting to re­place the bat­ter­ies. Also, do I need spe­cial fire doors, fire alarms and spe­cial fire­fight­ing equip­ment such as sprin­klers, or at the very least fire ex­tin­guish­ers on both floors? Think­ing the lo­cal au­thor­ity would be able to help I gave them a call but they re­ferred me to the lo­cal fire ser­vice, who told me I’d need to pay for a pri­vate com­pany to carry out a fire risk as­sess­ment. How­ever, all the firms I con­tacted told me this was nei­ther a ne­ces­sity nor a le­gal re­quire­ment for my type of prop­erty.

In­stead, I down­loaded my own fire risk as­sess­ment form from the in­ter­net and, us­ing the

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