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Who inspects HMOs in Walsall?

The Housing Standards and Improvements Service, which is part of Regeneration Service, enforce all current legal standards.

Are fire precautions needed?

There is a significantly higher risk of fire in HMOs and fire statistics show most types of HMOs have a greater risk of fire than houses occupied by a single family. There are a variety of reasons for this increased risk, but because it exists, local authorities have powers to require adequate means of escape in case of fire and other fire precautions.

What are fire protection measures designed to do?

The basic principle that the standard aims to achieve is that everyone should be able to leave the HMO safely in the event of fire. There are three key principles involved:

Alert everybody to the fact that there is a fire in the property. This is done by raising the alarm through an Automatic Fire Detection system.

Contain the fire within the room where it has started. This is the reason that all doors leading onto the protected escape route have to be half-hour fire resisting and self-closing with smoke seals.

Evacuate, i.e. get out, and stay out and call the Fire Service.

A combination of protection and early warning measures are used to prevent the spread of fire and smoke throughout the HMO, particularly the escape routes.

In determining the specific measures for a HMO, the Council will consider:

The protection offered to rooms and escape routes against the spread of fire and smoke. This will involve an assessment of the need for fire-resisting construction of floor, walls, ceilings and fire doors.

The travel distances from a room to a safe exit from the HMO.

The nature of the means of escape and their suitability for the number and types of occupants (taking into consideration the capabilities of children, the elderly and the incapacitated, in escaping). The steepness of stairs and the width of doorways and corridors should be taken into account, together with escape lighting and display of signs.

The need for fire warning systems, smoke and heat detectors and fire fighting equipment. Interlinked single point detectors would only be acceptable in some basic 2 storey HMOs whereas more sophisticated systems are needed in larger or more complex premises.

Are gas safety and electrical test certificates needed every year?

All gas installations and all appliances supplied by the landlord must be safety checked each year by a suitably qualified Gas Safe registered gas installer and the installation must meet the requirements of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.

Eletrcial tests are required every 5 years. The landlord/agent should make a visible check of all electrical installations at the end of every tenancy before re-letting.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforce legislation dealing with gas safety. The HSE has produced information leaflets regarding aspects of gas safety and they can be viewed/downloaded by clicking on the links below:

Landlords / agents must give all of their tenants a copy if the ‘Landlords Gas Safety record’. The landlord must keep a copy of the original certificate for at least 2 years. Tenants – please make sure you have a copy and keep your copy of the certificate safe.

What can I do if my landlord/agent does not carry out repairs or improvements?

Housing Standards Officers are pleased to offer advice and may be able to take more formal action in cases where legal enforcement is needed to encourage a landlord/agent to carry out necessary repairs or improvements.

If you would like more information on HMO licensing then please contact the Housing Standards Service on 01922 652171