Standards for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

7. General state of repair

The HMO, including the building containing the HMO, shall meet the Decent Homes Standard, that is:

  • be free from Category 1 hazards under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System
  • be in a reasonable state of repair
  • have reasonably modern facilities and amenities
  • have a reasonable degree of thermal comfort

As a guide, properties which meet the following standards are likely to meet the Decent Homes Standard:

7.1 Repair and stability

The house shall be free from serious disrepair and otherwise be in a reasonable state of repair having regard to its age, character and the locality in which it is situated. The house and every part of it shall be structurally stable.

7.2 Dampness

The house shall be free from dampness prejudicial to the health of the occupants, including rising dampness, penetrating dampness and condensation.

7.3 Natural and artificial light

All habitable rooms shall have an adequate level of natural lighting, provided via a clear glazed window or windows and/or door(s), the glazed area to be equivalent to at least one-tenth of the floor area and to extend normally to a point 1.75m above floor level.

Windows to bathrooms and water closets are to be glazed with obscured glass.

Adequate electric lighting points are to be provided to all habitable rooms, staircases, landings, passages, kitchens, bathrooms and water closets. All lighting to common parts to be provided, maintained and paid for by the landlord or their agent. Lighting to staircases, landings and passages may be controlled by time switches or other devices having a similar effect.

7.4 Ventilation

All habitable rooms, for example living rooms and bedrooms, shall be ventilated directly to the external air by a window that has an openable area not less than 1/20th of the floor area.

All kitchens, bathrooms and W.C. compartments shall be ventilated directly to the external air, either by:

  • a window, the openable area of which shall be equivalent to at least 1/20th of the floor area of the room or
  • by suitably sited mechanical ventilation providing a minimum of three air changes per hour, preferably operated from the lighting circuit of the room and fitted with a 20 minute overrun

For kitchens, mechanical ventilation providing one air change per hour will be deemed sufficient and consideration should be given to the provision of a humidistat.

Basement rooms used as habitable rooms shall be provided with natural ventilation direct to the external air. In addition, there shall be an unobstructed space immediately outside the window opening, which extends the entire width of the window or more, and has a depth of not less than 600mm measured from the external wall or not less than 300mm in the case of a bay window with side lights.

7.5 Space heating and insulation

Each unit of living accommodation must be provided with adequate means of space heating.

To meet the Decent Homes Standard, the dwelling should have an efficient programmable gas, oil or electric central heating system, with thermostatic control.

Where this is not provided, a fixed heating appliance that is capable of heating the room to a temperature of 18 degrees centigrade when the outside temperature is -1 degree centigrade is the minimum that should be provided in each unit of accommodation. This provision shall be efficient, safely designed and be so sited and guarded as to minimise any risks to health and safety.

All additional living rooms and bathrooms shall be provided with such suitable means of heating.

No portable oil or gas-fired heaters are to be used in the premises.

The property should be capable of achieving and maintaining a suitable room temperature without undue heat loss. To maximise thermal efficiency, the property shall be provided with cavity wall insulation and 250 mm loft insulation and where there are lofts and cavity walls. Windows and doors shall be draught-proofed, or otherwise well fitting and reasonably free from draughts. Water tanks and pipes shall be insulated.

7.6 Food safety and water supply

Adequate facilities for the storage, preparation and cooking of food shall be provided in accordance with Section 4.0.

Each kitchen sink and any facilities for the provision of drinking water shall be provided with an adequate supply of cold running water suitable for drinking and shall be supplied from the rising main. Constant hot water is to be provided to each kitchen sink.

Any down service pipe from any water storage tank in an upper storey or roof space shall be provided with an accessible stop valve. The mains water service pipe is to be fitted with a conveniently accessible stopcock.

The water supply shall be protected where necessary from frost damage.

7.7 Hygiene, sanitation and drainage

Adequate bathing and W.C. facilities shall be provided in accordance with Section 5.0.

The house shall be provided with an effective system, both above and below ground for the drainage of foul, waste and surface water.

The design, construction and maintenance of the dwelling should, as far as possible, enable internal surfaces to be easily cleaned and decorated and reduce the risk of access by pests.

There should be suitable and sufficient provision for the storage of refuse, both inside the dwelling and outside of the dwelling whilst awaiting collection or disposal.

7.8 Security

The property should be capable of being secured against unauthorised entry. Security lighting, window locks, and entry-phone controls may be appropriate, but security features must not hamper means of escape case of fire.

7.9 Protection against accidents

The condition and design of the property and the amenities within it should minimise the risk of accidents such as falls, burns and scalds, collisions, cuts and strains. Whilst it is not possible to be prescriptive about the measures required to protect against accidents, the following are some examples of matters to be considered:

  • provision of a secure handrail and adequate lighting to steps and stairs
  • safe layout of kitchen areas, so that cookers are sited away from doors or thoroughfares
  • removal or reduction of trip and slip hazards, for example small steps, uneven floor surfaces, frayed carpets or loose floor tiles
  • thermostatic control of stored hot water

7.10 Pollutants

Occupants should not be exposed to harmful levels of pollutants such as asbestos fibres, carbon monoxide, lead etc. In effect, any sources of pollutants should either be avoided or managed.

7.11 Fire precautions

The property shall be provided with adequate means of escape in case of fire and other fire precautions. Section 6 gives further guidance.