The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Safety & Housing Legislation – Part 52

June 29, 2020 2:19 pm

Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF) is a specialist fire engineering and fire risk management consultancy whose aim is to give information on best practice in fire safety for facilities management personnel through this blog series. In part 51, LWF discussed the available guidance for the Scottish legislation, before touching upon the legislation in Northern Ireland. In part 52, we begin to look at housing legislation and how it relates to fire safety legislation.

Fire safety legislation overlaps with housing legislation in England and Wales, mainly because of houses of multiple occupation (HMO’s). HMO’s are not treated as domestic premises under existing fire safety legislation and are not, therefore, exempt.

The Housing Act 2004 requires that larger, high-risk houses of multiple occupation are subject to mandatory licensing and other HMO’s are subject to discretionary licensing.

The scope of the act is very broad and does not just apply to HMO’s, but the assessment of HMO’s and any residential premises within the scope of the act is carried out by means of the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), a risk-based evaluation tool.

The purpose of the HHSRS is to enable local authorities to identify and protect against risks and hazards to health and safety from deficiencies found in dwellings. The HHRS considers a total of 29 hazards, grouped into four areas. One of the four areas is ‘protection against accidents’ and it is within this category that the hazard of fire is addressed. The completed assessment provides a score which is the overall risk assessed by the housing authority, who are also responsible for enforcement.

There is no current national standard relating to fire safety and HMO’s and this can make assessment of the area difficult. Some local authorities have produced local guidance, such as the one produced by Decent and Safe Homes (DASH) East Midlands – Fire Safety Guide for Houses in Multiple Occupation (and Other Dwellings) (PDF)

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 does include in its scope the common parts of premises used by occupants of more than one dwelling. Most commonly, this can relate to blocks of flats, for instance. However, it can also apply to the common parts of HMO’s, although often not to shared student houses. The definition within the Housing Act 2004 is much broader and therefore many student houses fall outside the remit of the Fire Safety Order and into the Housing Act 2004.

In part 53, LWF will continue looking at the assessment of fire safety risk in houses in multiple occupation. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.

Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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