STANDARDS FOR HOUSES IN MULTIPLE OCCUPATION
(Excluding Fire Standards)
CONTENTS 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 10 Introduction Categories of HMOs Room Size Standards Fitness & Amenities Management Underground Rooms Other Relevant Matters Appendix B Underground Rooms 4 6 8 12 20 23 25 29
For Standards relating to fire precautions please refer to the following website: www.homestamp.com
Hello, This is Iggy. OK so Iggy’s just a device to try and make this booklet more, well…… engaging. The trouble with most official booklets is that they are pretty difficult to read so Coventry City Council has decided to try the more personal approach and make the regulations and the reasons for them easier to understand. Of course the reason this booklet exists is a very serious one. Life can be pretty difficult living in an HMO as we shall find out. The Council has tried to be as helpful as possible but no matter how hard we try, compliance with the law may mean hard work or expense. So What is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)? Well the law (section 345 of the Housing Act 1985 if you must ask) defines an HMO as being a “House which is occupied by persons who do not form a single household” Whilst this definition is helpful it still leaves it open to interpretation. Clearly if Iggy is living in a house with five other people who he does not know, he has his own room, everyone comes and goes at different times, they shop separately, cook separately, eat separately and generally have little in common except using the same bus stop then the house is plainly an HMO. On the other hand a house which is occupied by a group of, say, students who share meals (some or all of the time), know each others' movements, and generally co-operate in a family-like way, is in most cases not an HMO. You would think the law would want to do better than this and indeed there have been a number of court cases where landlords have appealed against the action local authorities wanted to take. These have helped in getting a better definition. However, no matter how learned the chap wearing the wig has been they have all made judgements which effectively say “ Well this is what I think in this particular case but really I can’t make a ruling which applies all over the country”. In general Coventry City Council will treat a house as an HMO where “unconnected" occupants have to share parts of a house such as passageways, bathrooms and kitchens. Even if there are just two separate households in what was a single house the Council will consider it to be an HMO if there is a risk of fire spread or there is a problem in sharing the amenities. Why Does the Council Need to get Involved?
Well, living in an HMO can be fairly difficult. Iggy has to make all sorts of compromises to live happily and there can be all sorts of conflicts which arise when Iggy’s house-mates act inconsiderately. Sharing things in a house can be difficult when others don’t accept their responsibilities. The biggest worry is fire safety. If you have six households living in one house then there are six households in which a fire can start. Unlike ordinary houses the fire can spread quickly to affect the other households, and to make matters worse, the way HMOs are divided up can make escaping from them very difficult. On top of this and to recognise the fact that fire safety in HMOs is important, the government has placed a duty on local authorities to inspect and take action, where appropriate, for certain higher risk HMOs. This means we must take action sometimes, even if no-one has complained or tenants don’t want the bother. 4
Of course, Iggy is the sort of person who likes to see things done properly and always does the right thing. If only everyone was like Iggy! Trouble is that lots of tenants aren’t. So the standards which the law sets take account of the fact that sometimes tenants are less than perfect or are forgetful or get...
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