HMOs face tougher fire regulations

The Home Office has announced new measures to strengthen fire safety in HMOs will be announced in the Building Safety Bill, which is due to be enacted in 2022. These measures included large fines for those obstructing fire officials.;
Regulations

The Home Office has announced new measures to strengthen fire safety in HMOs, which could lead to large fines.

Fire safety

These new measures are part of the government’s response to the Fire Safety Consultation that ran from July to October 2020.

They are aimed at HMO’s and other multi-tenancy properties, but not other domestic properties.

When will the new measures come into force?

The exact details of the measures will form part of the Building Safety Bill, which is due to be enacted in 2022.

Fire Minister Lord Greenhalgh says:

“Everyone should be safe in the buildings where they live, stay or work.”

“Our new measures will improve fire safety and help save lives, but will also take firm action against those who fail in their duty to keep people safe.”

Roy Wilsher, National Fire Chiefs Council Chair, added

“We want to see safer buildings for residents and are committed to working constructively with the Home Office and other partners on the Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommendations and other key fire safety policy areas.”

The measures

The government says the new measures will:

  • Improve the quality of fire risk assessments and competence of those who complete them
  • Ensure vital fire safety information is preserved over the lifespan of all regulated buildings
  • Improve cooperation and coordination amongst people responsible for fire safety and making it easier to identify who they are
  • Strengthen enforcement action, with anyone impersonating or obstructing a fire inspector facing unlimited fines
  • Strengthen guidance issued under the Fire Safety Order so that failure to follow it may be considered in court proceedings as evidence of a breach or of compliance
  • Improve the engagement between Building Control Bodies and Fire Authorities in reviewing plans for building work
  • Require all new flats above 11 metres tall to install premises information boxes.

Unlimited fines

One key takeaway that the landlord community has highlighted from the announcement is the ability for unlimited fines to be handed out to property owners, who obstruct or impersonate fire inspectors.

We will be watching closely to see what other changes to property legislation this new bill will enact, when it is announced sometime next year.

Praise for fire services

In the same announcement, the Home Office has announced a further cash boost of £10 million for Fire and Rescue Authorities.

The fire services have taken on additional tasks during the pandemic, such as driving ambulances and assisting at both testing and vaccination centres.

Wilson further commented,

“The NFCC welcomes the extra funding to support Covid activities carried out by fire and rescue services across England. Firefighters are responsible for administering around 1 in 240 vaccinations to the public.”

This information should not be interpreted as financial advice. Mortgage and loan rates are subject to change.