House of Multiple Occupancy

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a property that is shared by three or more tenants who are not members of the same family. HMO landlords must have a licence from the Local Council Housing Department. This ensures that the property is managed properly and meets certain safety standards. The licence will be valid for up to three years, and will then have to be renewed.




All housing is subject to The Housing Act 2004 and this includes HMO’s. The act is enforced by the Local Housing Authority which in most cases will be the Local Council Housing Department. Also it important to understand that other pieces of fire safety legislation can be applied to HMO’s.


Fire Safety in new and altered HMO’s flats and maisonettes, is subject to the Building Regulations and the guidance can be found on my page on Fire Safety in New, Extended or Altered Buildings.


Fire safety in the common areas of HMO`s, blocks of flats or Maisonettes are controlled by Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO), and this order lays down the legal requirements. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 Guidance Note No. 1 will help you understand the Order.


Because the RRFSO applies to HMO`s the person usually the landlord or managing agent is designated as the Responsible Person under the Order and therefore that term Responsible Person(RP) is used in the following text.


A brief summary of what actions are required by the Responsible Person (RP) are;


  • Complete a fire risk assessment and consider the fire precautions in the common area and eliminate or reduce to the lowest possible level
  • Consider escape routes which may require the provision of a fire barrier between the common areas and the living accommodation to create a protected route to a place of ultimate safety.
  • Consider the need for a fire detection and warning system and should it be extended into the living accommodation.
  • Consider the need for emergency escape lighting.
  • Consider firefighting equipment and facilities.
  • Consider the need for signs and notices
  • Consider recording, planning, informing, instructing and training which will require producing a fire action plan.
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