The amount of profit before safety stories and convictions you see in the news is not only worrying but too common.
In order to gain a licence, the mandatory conditions are:
A valid gas safety certificate, if gas is supplied to the house
Electrical appliances and furniture (supplied under the tenancy) must be in safe condition
Smoke alarms must be in proper working order
The tenant must be supplied with a written statement of the terms of occupation
References must be demanded from persons wishing to occupy the house
For HMO licencing the following need to be met:
The house is suitable for the number of occupants (eg size and facilities)
The manager of the house - you or an agent - is considered to be ‘fit and proper’, eg no criminal record, or breach of landlord laws or code of practice
Send the council an updated gas safety certificate every year
Install and maintain smoke alarms
Provide safety certificates for all electrical appliances when requested
I have been through several local authority licencing conditions and not one specifically stated a fire risk assessment MUST be carried out.
In addition, a landlord has to complete a fit and proper person test which looks at things like previous convictions but even that does not automatically bar a person and if the applicant has not had any previous nothing will show but this does not mean they are in fact a fit and proper person to hold a licence.
It is all good and well an applicant signing a declaration saying they will meet their obligations but the amount of prosecutions we see suggests that is not the case and they agree just to obtain the licence with a total dis-regard to their tenant’s safety.
It also relies on a landlord been caught in the first place which is not guaranteed and if a death occurs in the meantime due to their failings then it is too late and a too higher cost. There is also the part the insurers can play in this by demanding a fire risk assessment is carried out in order to provide cover. Granted some insurers stipulate this but not all and if all did it would force the landlord to carry out an FRA before their property was insured. You may ask would a landlord who doesn’t care about the regulations even bother about insurance? Maybe they wouldn’t but if proof of insurance was also required as mandatory in addition to an up to date satisfactory fire risk assessment then that would close that loophole and go a long way to ensuring tenants are safe in their homes.
To summarise unless a landlord can prove they have undertaken a full Fire Risk Assessment which shows they are fully compliant with their obligations under the Fire Safety Order a licence should not be approved until they meet the required standard.
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