Safety inspections and guidance notes

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) inspection

Once a HMO application form has been submitted to the council with all of the associated certification and the HMO licence fee, then an officer will contact you to arrange an inspection to visit. At the visit the officer will assess if there are any hazards as described in the HHSRS (see the Housing health and safety rating system information document in the downloads section for more information) and will inform you about any works that are required to bring the property up to standard.

Fire safety

The fire safety requirements for a property being let out/used as a HMO are greater than in a property being rented to a single family or to two individuals as statistically fires are more likely to start in HMO properties and the harms greater due to a number of factors:

  • multiple ignition sources are likely to be found in HMOs from individual occupiers having duplicate appliances to each unit of accommodation in a property
  • there is likely to be high loading of electrical circuits within a HMO
  • tenants have little control over other occupiers attitudes, awareness, knowledge or 'risky' behaviour with regards to fire safety
  • there is often no 'responsible' person who will assist others in the event of a fire and check that all communal areas are secured and appliances switched off at night
  • many individuals using the same means of escape.

Fire is one of the 29 hazards looked at under the HHSRS and is risk assessed on a property by property basis, taking into account:

  • storey height of the property including basements and any commercial premises below or above the accommodation
  • number of occupiers to the property
  • means of escape routes, including any secondary escape routes
  • location of cooking facilities
  • use of the property (e.g. shared house, bedsits, accommodation for vulnerable tenants etc.).

For these reasons a prescriptive list of fire safety requirements can't be provided, but the list below gives an idea of some of the fire safety requirements that you may be asked to provide within the property if you decide you want to operate a HMO:

  • a mains wired, interlinked fire alarm system provided throughout the property
  • a minimum of 30 minutes fire resistant to be provided through the means of escape at the property
  • locks on all exit doors from the property to be able to be operated without the use of a key
  • fire blanket provided in the kitchen
  • fire extinguishers provided in the hallways
  • means of escape route to be kept clear.

Responsibilities of HMO owners, landlords and managers

The council is responsible for inspecting and monitoring the standard of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). The owner, landlord or manager of the HMO is responsible for making sure that the property is in good condition and well maintained. This includes:

  • water supply and drainage to and from the house
  • electricity or gas supply to the house
  • common areas of the house (i.e. halls, stairways, entrances and passageways)
  • lighting
  • windows
  • fire escapes and fire precaution equipment
  • living accommodation (the areas occupied by residents)
  • outbuildings in common use.

The landlord or manager of the HMO should also ensure that:

  • refuse and litter are not allowed to accumulate in the house, except when pending disposal, and shall provide and maintain suitable refuse and litter bins, except where they are provided by the local authority. The landlord/manager is also responsible for the disposal of any refuse if the local authority fails to do so
  • reasonable precautions are taken to ensure the general safety of the residents of the house with regard to the structural conditions of the house and to prevent access to any areas that are unsafe, including window sills that are at or near floor level
  • the name, address and telephone number of the managing agent or landlord of the house is displayed in the house
  • the local housing authority is provided with particulars requested by written notice with regard to the number of individuals living in the property, and the purpose of each room in the property.

If you live in a shared house and you believe that your landlord is not correctly maintaining the property you live in, contact the council for advice or information (contact details below).

Housing standards and enforcement team


Croydon Council, 6th Floor, Bernard Weatherill House, , 8 Mint Walk, Croydon CR0 1EA , United Kingdom