Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)It is not always easy to
define a house in multiple occupation. Ultimately, we rely on
legal definitions and past court cases. In general, a house in
multiple occupation is one in which facilities such as the kitchen
and bathroom are shared by more than one household. Some dwellings
with many shared facilities, such as houses converted into self-contained
flats, are also classified as HMOs. Houses in multiple occupation
- houses converted into self-contained flats, each occupied
by a single household;
- shared houses and bedsit houses;
- shared flats;
- houses containing a mixture of flats in single occupation
- hostels; and
- hotels and boarding houses.
Small residential care homesThese are similar to private dwellings
in character and have to be registered with the local authority.
They can provide accommodation with care for up to three residents,
plus staff and their relatives.The people who run the homes are
required to "take adequate precautions against the risk
of fire" by regulations.Fire brigades are not required to
inspect them by law but as they are used by mainly older at risk
residents, they are a suitable priority for Community Fire Safety
visits. Recommended standards are covered by Fire Service Circular
11/1993. Most of the advice in this module is designed for HMOs.
Basic safety message
In 2000, 153 people in the UK lost their lives as a result of
fire in houses in multiple occupation. 6,668 more were injured.
When you consider moving into privately rented accommodation,
you are likely to look at the state of decoration, furnishing
and repair of the property. The last thing on your mind is whether
the accommodation is safe from fire and whether you would be
safe should a fire occur. However, houses in multiple occupation
are particularly at risk of fire as they can present lethal dangers.
Fires and casualties from fires in multiple occupancy
||England and Wales
|Multiple occupancy dwellings
The Government issued guidance in 1992 to local authorities
on the standards they could adopt when exercising their enforcement
powers under certain sections of the Housing Act 1985. This includes
guidance on standards for means of escape from fire and other
fire precautions. In April 1999, the Government acknowledged
this guidance may no longer be appropriate in all cases and issued
revised guidance as an interim measure. Future guidance will
be based on analysing the fire risk in each HMO.
There are many British Standards relating to fire safety. The
most recent on fire safety in the homes is BS 5839 : part 6:
1995. It covers HMOs that are described as dwellings (this excludes
hostels, boarding houses and hotels). The Standard advises that
any HMO should be assessed for its fire risk and then all work
should be based on the level of risk that is found. The four
main factors for consideration are:
- the probability of a fire occurring;
- the probability of injury or death of occupants if a fire
- the probability of the fire alarm system operating correctly
at the time of a fire; and
- the probability of early detection and warning of occupants
in the event of fire.