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Safety inspections of HMOs

Find out about safety inspections of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and what happens if they are not up to standard.

​From 1 October 2018, all HMOs with five or more occupants need to have a licence. Apply for a licence by 28 September 2018 to get a discount.

We conduct safety inspections of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). If conditions are not up to standard, the landlord or owner is required to improve them.

Entering properties for inspections

In most circumstances we will give 24 hours notice before entry. However, we may authorise a person to enter a premise at any reasonable time without giving any prior notice if the local housing authority considers that a premises needs to be entered to see whether an offence has been committed under section 72, or 95 of the Housing Act 2004.

These are:

Section 72

  1. A person commits an offence if they are a person having control of or managing an HMO which needs to be licensed under this Part (see section 61(1)) but is not licensed.
  2. A person commits an offence if: (a) they are a person having control of or managing an HMO which is licensed under this Part (b) they knowingly permit another person to occupy the house, and (c) the other person’s occupation results in the house being occupied by more households or persons than the licence permits.
  3. A person commits an offence if: (a) they are a licence holder or a person on whom restrictions or obligations under a licence are imposed in accordance with section 67(5), and (b) they fail to comply with any condition of the licence.

Section 95

  1. A person commits an offence if they are  a person having control of or managing a house which is required to be licensed under this Part (see section 85(1)) but is not so licensed.
  2. A person commits an offence if: (a) they are a licence holder or a person on whom restrictions or obligations under a licence are imposed in accordance with section 90(6), and (b) they fail to comply with any condition of the licence.

We inspect all HMOs using our standards for licensable houses in multiple occupation, which can be found at the bottom of the page. We expect all HMOs operating in the borough to comply with our standards.

Maintaining properties

It is the responsibility of the manager of the HMO make sure that the following are maintained in repair, clean condition and good order (including, where appropriate, proper working order):

Water supply, drainage and general services

All means of water supply and drainage in the house are to be maintained, repaired, kept clean and protected against frost damage. Tanks and cisterns should be clean and covered. The manager shall not unreasonably cause the supply of water, gas or electricity to be interrupted.

Parts and installations in common use

The manager shall ensure that common areas such as staircases, passageways, corridors and entrances are kept reasonably free from obstruction. All handrails and banisters and any stair coverings should be kept repaired or replaced or be provided where necessary for the safety of the residents.

Included are installations that serve any part of the house in common use, such as:

  • installations for the supply of gas and electricity, for lighting and for space heating or heating water

  • sanitary conveniences, baths, sinks, washbasins and installations for cooking or storing food

  • receptacles or other installations provided in connection with the delivery of post

  • other installations (if any) in a kitchen, bathroom, lavatory or washroom.

Living accommodation

The internal structure of any part of the house occupied by a resident is the living accommodation including the installations for supply of water, gas, electricity and sanitation are in.  These must be in good repair.

Lighting, windows and ventilation

Includes all windows and other means of ventilation. The manager shall ensure that installations for lighting serving any part of the house in common use are readily available to residents, including lighting for staircases and entrances to the house which are used by residents, whether or not they are in common use.

Means of escape from fire

All means of escape from fire in the house and all apparatus, systems and other fire precaution equipment are to be maintained and kept free from obstruction. It is the manager's responsibility to display in suitable positions in the house signs indicating all means of escape from fire in the house.

Outbuildings in common use

Includes all outbuildings and outside areas which belong to the house and are in common use. They should be maintained in good, clean condition and any boundary walls, fences and railings should be kept in good repair.

The manager must ensure:

  • that refuse and litter do not accumulate in the house, except when pending disposal, and they shall provide and maintain suitable refuse and litter bins, except where they are provided by the local authority. He/she is also responsible for the disposal of any refuse if the local authority fails to do so

  • that reasonable precautions are taken to ensure the general safety of the residents of the house with regard to the structural conditions of the house and to prevent access to any areas that are unsafe, including window sills that are at or near floor level

  • that the name, address and telephone number of the managing agent or landlord of the house is displayed in the house.

The manager must also tell us:

  • the number of people and households living in the house

  • the numbers of people in each household, and

  • the purpose for which each room in the house is used.

Duties of residents

All residents of the property must  ensure that the agent can effectively carry out their duties.

All residents must:

  • allow the manager access, at all reasonable times, to any occupied room so they may carry out their duties

  • provide the manager on request with any relevant information

  • comply with arrangements made by the agent in respect of fire precautions or litter storage and disposal

  • take care not to hinder the agent in the performance of his duties

  • take reasonable care to avoid damaging anything that the agent is under obligation to keep in good repair.

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