Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s)

If the house you are looking at has 3 storeys and above and has 5 or more tenants, the landlord may be legally required to have a mandatory licence that ensures appropriate health and safety standards are met on the property. It is a criminal offence for a landlord not to register a licensable property and they face a fine of up to £20,000. If you suspect a property requires a licence but the landlord does not produce one, don’t sign up to it and contact Birmingham City Council (0121 303 4009) or the Advice Centre. You can also check for yourself on the Birmingham City Council website.

Gas Safety

Carbon monoxide kills between thirty and forty people in their homes every year. Preventing these deaths requires the regular servicing of gas appliances and the maintenance of sufficient ventilation to the rooms containing them. Landlords are required by law to have both appliances and flues inspected every twelve months by a Gas Safe registered installer.

They are also obliged to give tenants a copy of the gas certificate both when they move in and when the certificate is renewed. If it is not inspected every year, contact the Advice Centre or ring the Health and Safety Executive’s Gas Safety Action Line on 0800 300 363.

Electrical Safety

This is not regulated in the same way as gas but landlords are under a duty to maintain electrical sockets and wiring. Signs that everything is not well include sparks coming from switches, frayed insulation and plugs that heat up. Never overload circuits using adapters.

Fire Safety

Proper means of escape must be provided. This does not necessarily mean external fire escapes, but unblocked exits, fire doors and fire protected stairways. If your house looks as if it should have better fire safety, you may want to bring it to the attention of the local council who can check it out (0121 303 5341). A working smoke detector on each floor of the accommodation is a legal requirement. If you don’t have this, contact your landlord. Check regularly that all your smoke detectors are working properly. Your chances of surviving a fire are three times greater if an alarm is fitted and working.