The important thing is to satisfy your tenant’s demands, i.e. give them what they want. I find most tenants require a lock on their bedroom door, a fully furnished house, including a washing machine in the kitchen, central heating and a TV. Professionals also require broadband. I would always provide smoke detectors as well though I accept they are of limited use and abused by the tenants, but you are seen to do the right thing.
For fire protection you are better off fitting fire sprinklers as they do the job, are rarely abused and cost far less than the fire protection that the local authorities will often try and make you fit, known as passive fire protection. There has never been a death through fire in a faulty sprinkled property. Unfortunately, the situation at present is that you cannot fit slots fire sprinklers instead of passive fire protection, but you may get a slight reduction in what the local authority normally require, though you will usually have to fight for any relaxation.
Anything else you provide is down to you and what your tenants and the local authority require you to do. Local authorities usually require the following fire safety precautions but the legality for requiring them is dubious:
1. A fire alarm system – it is best to fit a grade A system which means the highest specification for a fire alarm and has a control panel, usually by the door, and they don’t cost that much more than the more usual D grade system.
2. Emergency lighting in the escape route.
3. An escape route from every room, except a bathroom protected by fire doors with overhead closers, intermecsent strips with smoke seals and thumb turn locks on the bedroom and exit doors.
4. Fire blanket in the kitchen and sometimes a fire extinguisher.
Nb. No local authorities and even individual officers vary in what they want and some just make it up as they go and there is little consistency. Like everything in this business, try to negotiate.
Most of the management standards which apply to all HMO’s, whether licensable or not, are found in Statutory Instruments (SI) 2006 number 372 and for licensable HMO’s the amenity standards are found in SI 2006 number 373. SI’s can be downloaded free of charge from the government website.
To find out more about running your own HMO, get your FREE copy of “Beginners Guide To HMO’s And Multi-lets” now at www.hmodaddy.com