Social Housing Management: HMO’s and Electrical Safety

The purpose of this blog is to give a brief introduction into what a HMO is and what Scottish landlords need to do in regards to electrical safety in regards to HMO’s. The rules and regulations may differ slightly depending on which part of the UK you reside, so please bear this in mind.

The Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 describes a house in multiple occupation is any living accommodation that is occupied by 3 or more persons who are not all members of the same family. A person is only counted if it is that is their only or main residence so the likes of an overnight carer would not make the property a HMO.

To count as a HMO the living accommodation needs to be a house or a premises or group of premises owned by the same person. Its occupants need to share one or more of the basic amenities with each other. The basic amenities would include a toilet, personal washing facilities and facilities for the preparation or provision of cooked food.

A student undertaking a full-time course who is living away from home during term time will be counted. Their living accommodation will be treated as being that person’s only or main residence.

Other properties treated as HMO’s include those rented to young professionals, migrant workers and tied accommodation. Some HMO’s that are exempt from the licensing requirement include; care homes, independent health care, school care accommodation, armed forces accommodation and prisons.

Local authorities are responsible for giving out HMO licences which need to be applied for. The local authority sets the standards required and also sets the fees for a licence application. Most local authorities generally follow the same guidelines but it is worth while to work closely with them to ensure you have provided them with all of the certification required to renew the licence successfully.

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Electrical Safety and HMO’s

The safety and security of of occupiers is of the upmost importance when the local authority is assessing whether the accommodation is suitable as a HMO. Electrical safety is a key component when assessing the suitability along with the likes of gas safety and fire safety.

The HMO guidance for Scottish local authorities states that the electrical system and any appliances provided by the HMO owner have been examined by a competent person (preferably a member of an approved electrical trade body) who has confirmed they are functioning properly and are safe.

As a minimum the electrical inspection condition report (EICR) should be renewed at least every 5 years or earlier as directed by the approved electrical contractor. Some Local authorities may request for the check to be carried out once every 3 years. A Portable Appliance Test (PAT) Certificate should be renewed annually or earlier if directed to do so. The PAT test certificate must be held for all plug appliances owned by the HMO owner, it is not required for items belonging to the occupier.

The EICR certification which meets the requirements of BS 7671 must be provided. The electrical installation condition report will include the thorough visual inspection of the complete electrical installation which is not concealed.

The 2012 government guidance to local authorities states that at least 20% of the fixtures and fittings should be tested however it is common for local authorities to ask for 30%. All circuits should be tested and the schedule of inspections and schedule of test results must be fully completed and submitted. If an EICR certificate is due to expire part way through a HMO licence period, the landlord should obtain a new EICR.

The government guidance also sets out the number of electrical socket outlets that should be present, this includes the following minimum requirements:

  • 6 in each kitchen
  • 4 in each bedroom and living room
  • 4 additional sockets anywhere in the building.

Hopefully this gives you a better idea into managing houses of multiple occupation in relation to electrical safety management. There is allot more involved in terms of fire safety, gas safety and completing the licencing forms but that was beyond the scope of this blog. If you enjoyed this blog please feel free to subscribe via email to get the most up to date posts.

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