As a landlord, knowing what security measures are needed in your property can be a confusing issue – there is no such thing as one solution fits all and not all measures are suitable for every potentially risky.
In addition to there being hundreds of security-related products on the market there are health and safety rules landlords have to adhere to, particularly in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) properties.
The Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) – the UK’s biggest trade association for the locksmithing profession – offers expert advice on issues faced by landlords when looking to review security in HMO properties.
Justin Freeman technical manager for the MLA said: “In any rental property, a landlord has a responsibility to ensure clear and suitable emergency exits are fitted and they are appropriate to the size and number of occupants within a building.
“This is particularly paramount in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) which is property shared by three or more tenants who are not part of the same family.”
Emergency exit regulation includes the requirement to fit doors in an HMO property that open from the inside without the use of a key.. These systems need to be fitted to locked individual bedroom doors and common entrance doors.
Justin added: “HMO regulation was developed to ensure property is managed properly and it meets certain safety standards. Although standards are a legal requirement in HMO properties, a lot of the advice given can be applied to those that fall outside of the regulations as they do provide useful general security advice that can be applied to most homes.”
It is also essential in HMO property to fit fire doors with self closers to all bedrooms. While it is vital to have protected escape routes for individually let bedrooms and self contained flats. In addition, there may be a requirement for multiple escape routes dependant on the size of a property, and maximum emergency travel distances may apply, while clear signage is essential.
Landlords may also be required to install fire extinguishers and blankets, ensure furniture is not blocking any escape routes and emergency exit signs should be fitted accordingly. All upholstered furniture such as sofas and beds have to contain fire-resistant filling and covers under Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 and the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 1993. Labels confirming the resistance have to be sewn onto furniture.
Justin concludes: “For advice on HMO policies it’s best to speak to your Local Authority and your Fire Authority – in accordance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – who will compile a report and schedule of works to be carried out on the property to bring it in line with HMO policies. In addition, professional security advisors such as MLA licensed locksmiths will be able to advise on suitable locks, escape routes and fittings such as door closes.”
Insurance companies will also stipulate the type of lock to be fitted to doors and windows, so by not adhering to the requirements, landlords could potentially find themselves in breach of contract which could make claiming on insurance difficult if the situation arises.
Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS) also states that security measures should be put in place with security lighting with PIR detectors – again a MLA member would be well placed to advise on such matters.
The MLA has just launched a new, more user-friendly, website www.locksmiths.co.uk, where you can search by postcode, region or area of specialism to find approved, vetted and inspected locksmiths local to your property.
For further information or to find an approved MLA company please visit www.locksmiths.co.uk
Follow @MLA_locksmiths on Twitter
Find us on Facebook
By: Justin Freeman, technical manager at the Master Locksmiths Association