Thursday, 04 September 2014
If you are sharing your home with anyone who is not a family member then it is quite likely that you are living in an HMO (House in Multiple Occupation). For the purpose of defining an HMO, “family” can be immediate or extended (including parents, children, siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts/uncles and nephews/nieces).
The need to know facts about HMO Standards
If you live with family, then your property is probably not an HMO, but if you are living with friends or strangers then it probably is (though there have been several notable instances where friends and even strangers sharing have been defined as a single household). If you are in an HMO, then the property is required to meet a number of standards, whether or not the property is registered with the housing executive.
Fire safety is one consideration that the landlord of the property needs to make. The landlord must ensure that the property has fire alarms (as many as required for the size of the house and number of occupants), fire extinguishers, fire blankets and smoke or heat alarms as might be needed. Doors will have to have automatic close function to impede the spread of fire. Fire escapes are required as are planned and marked fire escape routes. All fire precautions must be proportional to the number of occupants and the size of the dwelling and in an HMO a landlord is required to maintain all of the fire safety equipment they provide. If you are concerned about the fire safety in your property then you should contact your landlord or the Environmental Health Department at your local council if you remain unsatisfied.
Lighting in an HMO must be adequate in all kitchens, toilets and bathrooms, be it natural or artificial. Ventilation in bathrooms and kitchens must also be adequate, so they must have a window unless having a window is impossible. If a window is not possible, at the very least the room must have a functioning ventilation fan. For every five people living in an HMO, the landlord is required to provide at least one bathroom or shower room containing a hand washbasin and a separate toilet. If providing a hand washbasin in the bath/shower room proves impossible, then the landlord must place a basin in every bedroom.
If there are less than five people living in your HMO, then the cooking facilities your landlord is required to provide should consist (as a bare minimum) of a cooking appliance with four rings or hotplates, a grill and an oven. If between six and ten people share your HMO, then the landlord is required to provide two of such appliances. A shared domestic kitchen should not contain more than two cooking appliances for safety and fire prevention reasons. Gas safety is of the utmost importance, and if you have gas fitted appliances, you should get carbon monoxide detectors installed. If you do not have detectors, you need to be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning as the gas is invisible and odourless so may only be detectible by its affects (drowsiness, headaches, stomach aches, etc.).
Tenants insurance is vital for one living in an HMO. Tenants contents insurance is vital because when you are sharing with strangers, you are at a greater risk than when you are sharing with your family. Home contents insurance for tenants and tenants home insurance is available with a competitive online quote from HomeProtect. When you want to protect your possessions, tenants insurance is a must in any shared home.