hmo fire risk assessment

HMO Fire Risk Assessment: 2024 Landlord’s Guide

Key Takeaways

Importance of Fire Risk Assessment in HMOsIdentifies hazards, ensures tenant safety, legal compliance
Legal RequirementsRegulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, Fire Safety Act 2021
Fire Safety MeasuresInstallation of fire doors, fire alarms, and emergency lighting
ResponsibilityLandlords, managing agents, and owners as responsible persons
Regular ReviewPeriodic updates of assessments for ongoing safety and compliance

Understanding HMOs and Fire Risks

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), which are properties rented to at least three tenants forming more than one household, pose unique fire risks due to their structure and occupancy. Large HMOs, typically with three or more stories or housing five or more tenants, require an HMO license, underscoring the need for stringent fire safety measures.

HMO Fire Safety Checklist

AreaCheck ItemDetailsFrequency
Detection SystemsSmoke Alarms InstalledCheck all rooms and common areasMonthly
Heat Detectors in KitchenEnsure proper functioningMonthly
Containment MeasuresFire DoorsCheck for integrity and self-closing mechanismEvery 6 Months
CompartmentalizationInspect for breaches in walls, and ceilingsAnnually
Evacuation PreparednessEscape RoutesEnsure clear and unobstructedMonthly
Emergency LightingTest for proper operationEvery 6 Months
Firefighting EquipmentFire ExtinguishersCheck pressure levels, seals, and tagsAnnually
Fire BlanketsEnsure accessibility and conditionAnnually
Maintenance and TrainingAlarm System ServicingProfessional inspection and servicingAnnually
Fire Safety Training for ResidentsConduct evacuation drills and trainingBiannually
DocumentationFire Risk Assessment RecordUpdate with any changes in propertyAfter any change
Safety Equipment LogKeep a log of all safety equipment checksEvery check

Under UK law, specifically the Housing Act 2004, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations 2006, it is mandatory for HMO landlords to conduct a comprehensive fire risk assessment. This is crucial not only for tenant safety but also for legal compliance and protection in case of accidents.

Conducting a Fire Risk Assessment: A Step-by-Step Approach

  1. Identifying Hazards: The first step involves identifying potential fire hazards within the HMO, like faulty electrical systems or blocked escape routes.
  2. Evaluating Risks: Assess the level of risk associated with each hazard, classifying them as low, medium, or high.
  3. Implementing Safety Measures: Based on the assessment, install necessary fire safety equipment like fire alarms and ensure clear escape routes.
  4. Educational Responsibilities: While landlords are not expected to train tenants in fire safety, providing information on emergency procedures is essential.
  5. Regular Review and Update: Continually review and update the fire safety measures to account for changes in the property.

Enhanced Fire Safety Standards for Landlords: A 2023 Update

Incorporating Comprehensive Fire Safety Guidelines

Fire risk assessments are a critical responsibility for landlords. Prior to letting a property, ensuring a thorough fire risk assessment is conducted is a legal necessity. For detailed guidance on fire risk assessments, refer to the government’s detailed guidance and advice from the London Fire Brigade. Additionally, landlords can utilize a straightforward, free 5-step checklist for fire assessment available on the Government website. Landlords, especially those managing HMOs, are advised to engage with professional fire risk assessors and liaise with local councils to maintain high standards of fire safety.

Adhering to Regulatory Reforms and Fire Safety Orders

Post-Grenfell, the regulatory landscape for fire safety has evolved significantly. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, although initially focused on “non-domestic premises,” now extends to residential buildings with multiple domestic premises. This includes purpose-built blocks of flats, converted houses, and flats above shops. Post the Fire Safety Act 2021, this order has expanded to encompass the building’s structure, external walls, and common areas, emphasizing the need for fire doors and other safety measures. For more information, see the government guidance on fire safety for purpose-built flats.

Firerisk price banner

Understanding the Role of the “Responsible Person” in Fire Safety

Legal Duties and Best Practices

The designated “responsible person” – be it the freeholder, landlord, or managing agent – bears legal obligations to ensure the premises are safe. This includes carrying out fire risk assessments, reducing risks, ensuring the presence of fire-fighting equipment and alarms, and maintaining clear emergency exit routes. For further reading, the Fire Sector Federation offers valuable advice. Additionally, using The Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool can help assess the urgency of a fire risk assessment. Neglecting these duties can lead to criminal charges, including fines or imprisonment.

Guidance for Non-Responsible Landlords

Landlords who do not fall under the “responsible person” category should still ensure fire assessments are in place and pass on vital information to their tenants. They are also required to perform standard fire assessments for individual flats, highlighting the importance of comprehensive fire safety across all property types.

Recent Developments in Fire Safety Legislation

Building Safety Act 2022 and its Implications

The implementation of Phase 3 of the Home Office’s fire safety reform program in 2023 brought significant changes. The Building Safety Act 2022 mandates that responsible persons provide residents with clear, understandable information on fire safety, including identified risks, preventive measures, and the identity of the responsible person. This act underscores the importance of transparency and proactive communication in fire safety management. For detailed information, visit the Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022.


The visualization above illustrates the relative importance and complexity of various aspects of fire safety responsibilities for landlords, especially in HMO settings. Each category reflects crucial elements that landlords must consider to ensure compliance with fire safety regulations:

  • Fire Risk Assessments: This is fundamental and requires 100% attention from landlords.
  • Regulatory Reforms: With a 75% score, it highlights the importance of staying updated with evolving fire safety laws.
  • Responsible Person Duties: Scoring 85%, it emphasizes the significant role and legal obligations of the designated responsible person.
  • Building Safety Act 2022: With a 90% score, it indicates the high importance of understanding and implementing the requirements of this recent legislation.

Useful Resources

  1. Understanding Fire Risk Assessments: landlords and property managers must understand who is responsible for conducting fire risk assessments in HMOs.
  2. Comprehensive Fire Risk Assessment Services: Discover the range of fire risk assessment services available to ensure your property meets legal and safety standards.
  3. The Importance of Regular Fire Alarm Testing: Regular testing of fire alarms is vital in an HMO setting to ensure safety and quick response in case of a fire.
  4. Fire Door Surveying and Maintenance: Proper fire door surveying and maintenance play a crucial role in the overall fire safety strategy of an HMO.
  5. Ensuring Fire Extinguisher Compliance and Safety: Regular testing of fire extinguishers is a key component of maintaining fire safety in HMOs.
  6. The Necessity of Emergency Light Testing: Emergency lighting is essential for safe evacuation in case of a fire; thus, regular testing is imperative.
  7. Guidelines on How to Conduct a Fire Risk Assessment: This link provides detailed guidelines on how to conduct a comprehensive and effective fire risk assessment for HMOs.


Understanding and implementing effective fire risk assessments in HMOs is critical for landlords and property managers. It involves not just compliance with legal requirements but also a commitment to the safety and well-being of tenants. Regular assessments, adherence to fire safety standards, and staying informed about legislative changes are key to maintaining a safe living environment in HMOs.