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Duties upon the Manager of an HMO

2.11 Duties upon the Manager of an HMO

The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations
2006 places specific duties upon the manager of an HMO. Failure to
comply with the Regulations is a criminal offence, leading to fines of up to
£5,000 on conviction. This section highlights some of the key duties in the
Regulations:

Duty to Provide Information to Occupiers

• the name, address and telephone number of the manager
must be provided to each household in the HMO and the same
information must be displayed in a prominent position in the
common parts of the HMO.

Duty to Take Safety Measures

• means of escape from fire must be kept free of obstruction
and kept in good order and repair;

• fire fighting equipment, emergency lighting and alarms must
be kept in good working order;

• all reasonable steps must be taken to protect occupiers from
injury with regard to the design of the HMO, its structural
condition and the total number of occupiers. In particular, any
unsafe roof or balcony must be made safe or all reasonable                                            measures taken to prevent access to them. Safeguards must
be provided to protect occupiers with windows with sills at or
near floor level;

• in HMOs with more than four occupants, notices indicating the
location of means of escape from fire must be displayed so
they are clearly visible to all occupiers.

Duty to Maintain the Water Supply and Drainage

• these must be maintained in proper working order - namely
in good repair and clean condition. Specifically, storage tanks
must be effectively covered to prevent contamination of water,
and pipes should be protected from frost damage.

Duty to Supply and Maintain Gas and Electricity

• these should not be unreasonably interrupted by the landlord
or manager;

• all fixed electrical installations must be inspected and tested
by a qualified engineer at least once every five years and a
periodic inspection report obtained;

• the latest gas safety record and electrical safety test results
must be provided to the council within seven days of the
council making a written request for them.

Duty to Maintain Common Parts, Fixtures, Fittings and Appliances

• all common parts must be kept clean, safe, in good decorative
repair and working order and free from obstruction;

• in particular, handrails and banisters must be provided and
kept in good order, any stair coverings securely fixed, windows
and other means of ventilation kept in good repair and
adequate light fittings available at all times for every occupier
to use;

• gardens, yards, outbuildings, boundary walls/fences, gates, etc,
which are part of the HMO should be safe, maintained in good
repair, kept clean and present no danger to occupiers/visitors;

• any part of the HMO which is not in use (including areas giving
access to it) should be kept reasonably clean and free from
refuse and litter.

Duty to Maintain Living Accommodation

• the internal structure, fixtures and fittings, including windows
and other means of ventilation, of each room should be kept
clean, in good repair and in working order. Each room and
all supplied furniture should be in a clean condition at the
beginning of the tenant’s occupation.

Duty to Provide Waste Disposal Facilities

• no litter should be allowed to accumulate, except for                                                      that stored in bins provided in adequate numbers for the
requirements of the occupiers. Arrangements need to be made
for regular disposal of litter and refuse having regard to the
Council’s collection service.

2.11.1 Duties of Occupiers of HMOs

The Regulations also place a number of duties upon the occupiers (the
tenants) of an HMO.

These duties include:

• not obstructing the manager in the performance of their
duties;

• allowing the manager access to the accommodation at all
reasonable times for the purpose of carrying out their duties;

• providing information to the manager which would be
reasonably expected to enable them to carry out their duties;

• acting reasonably to avoid causing damage to anything the
manager is under a duty to supply, maintain or repair;

• storing and disposing of litter and refuse as directed;

• complying with reasonable instructions of the manager as
regards to any fire escape, fire prevention measures and fire
equipment.

If an occupier breaches their duties under the Regulations it is likely to
put their tenancy at risk, and the landlord/manager may be able to take
legal action against the tenant. Tenants can also be prosecuted by the local
authority with a maximum fine of £5,000. The Regulations impose duties
on both landlords/managers and tenants, and both can be prosecuted and
fined for breaching them.

2.11.2 Duty to Carry Out a Fire Risk Assessment

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (known as the FSO)
introduced duties in relation to fire safety in the common areas of HMOs,
flats and maisonettes. The duty is placed on the responsible person, who
is required to carry out a fire risk assessment and take specific action
to minimise the risk of fire in the common parts. “Responsible person”
means “the person who has control of the premises in connection with the
carrying on of a trade, business or other undertaking”. In practice this will
usually be the landlord, but in the case of absentee landlords where the
“carrying on of the business” is undertaken by a managing agent it may be
the managing agent.

Where a house is let as a shared house on a single tenancy then there are
no “common parts” and so a risk assessment is not required under the
Regulations.

These provisions are enforced by fire and rescue authorities and there is
therefore a dual enforcement regime in place in multi-occupancy premises.
In order to avoid duplication and the potential for conflict, a Fire Safety
Protocol has been established for joint working arrangements between the
fire and rescue authorities and local authorities.

2.11.3 LACORS National Fire Safety Guidance

In July 2008 the Local Authorities Co-ordinator of Regulatory Services
(LACORS) issued national fire safety guidance for landlords and local authorities in England. As Welsh statutory fire safety requirements are very
similar, the guidance may also be relevant in Wales.

Compliance with the guidance will satisfy landlords’ legal requirements
under the Fire Safety Order, and is available at: www.lacors.gov.uk/lacors/
upload/19175.pdf

The guidance explains the general principles of fire safety and how to carry
out and record a fire safety risk assessment.

Part D of the guidance provides very useful illustrations of the fire
precautions that may be suitable for the most common property types.
The illustrations are based on properties being of normal fire risk and the
guidance explains the factors that determine normal risk.

In addition to HMOs the guidance includes fire safety advice for singly
occupied properties. The Housing Act 2004 requires such properties to be
fire safe.