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Section 239 notice HMO

mountain dweller

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Hi all , a big ask here for a complex issue , I own and did rent out a flat years ago in a building converted into 3 flats, the other two flats are presently rented out , I have lived in my flat for the last 30 years. in July 2018 the local fire Brigade did a massive sweep of my county to inspect HMO type properties, I then received a notification of fire deficiencies under the 2005 reform Regulations which required mainly a Grade A LD2 coverage in the common areas , heat detector in each flat all interlinked with grade D single room smoke detectors non interlinked at that time only one flat was rented out.

The council state that the building has no authorisation for the conversion and does not comply with the appropriate building standards . Having made an argument with the council , back in 2018 they verbally said forget it, now on the 3 Dec 21 they have come back and issued another letter laying out exactly the same for all of the above . I checked with planning and building control and indeed their is no record of any planning applications going back to 1975, the other flats have changed hands in ownership twice in the last 30+ years . I also checked with my local fire brigade to find out if the property was registered for inspections as a HMO , they could only tell me that the property was visited in 2013 for an inspection, but failed to gain access. The property, who ever converted it , had emergency lights installed, fire doors, fire notices and fire extinguishers in each landing and is in immaculate condition , note, after asking the fire brigade about their inspections, I suddenly received a visit from them the next day, and they are some what perplexed of where this problem is today, given they issued a inspection report in July 2018, they have now issued a section 239 notice to start the whole process over again given it is now classed as a s257 HMO re: 2/3 flats now rented.

If the property was all private owner occupied can the council force the owners to carry out all of the above fire protection upgrades .

 The big question  , am I legally required to have a heat detector fitted in my own private property and should I have to pay towards all the main communal work given the situation has been forced on me by the other two lease holders who rent their flats out  

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The local authority enforce the Housing Act which covers all types of rented housing to varying degrees and has far more wide ranging powers (particularly powers of entry) than the fire safety legislation that principally covers the common parts. It's mostly for rented premises.

Being a s257 HMO only covers if the premises can be covered, if the local authority wishes, by additional licensing, but even if a license isn't required the Housing Act applies as does the Fire Safety Order as amended by the Fire Safety Act as there are 2 or more dwellings in the building (regardless of  if they are rented or not)

The fault for all this lies with whoever did the illegal conversion but that doesn't change the current situation. If it's not considered to minimum safe standards both types of legislation allow remedies up to and including prohibition & prosecution.

Fire doesn't care if the premises are owner occupied or not and if the structural standards are such that a proper alarm is required then it's either that or renovate so the right fire separation and smoke control associated with stay put is provided.

If it was the case that a fire in one flat wasn't an immediate risk to the lives in the other flats then each occupier (if not rented) could make their own decision to live or not by providing local smoke alarms, but it's the fact (as far as the enforcers are concerned, I've not seen the premises) that it is which leads to the current situation.

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