Michelle Salter (the Senior PRS Housing Manager, Sheffield City Council) gave a presentation on the recently agreed standard in HMO’s.
The following are some questions and answers from the meeting following her presentation.
Q If bedroom doors are fire doors – do they require sounders?
A Where there is a detector sounder within 3m of a bedroom on the same floor then this is acceptable, otherwise a further detector/sounder is required and this could be in the bedroom. Where there is an attic bedroom with an entrance door on the storey below there needs to be a detector/sounder in the attic bedroom.
Q The 21 day response time required of us may be a problem if a landlord is, for example, on holiday. Is there any flexibility on this?
A Yes. We have been notified in advance of one landlord’s holidays and avoided sending him consultations within that period. We have been notified that others are away once we have sent the communication out and we have given them extra time to respond once they have returned. However, where a landlord has gone away and left no cover arrangements in place and we send a consultation out but receive no communication about it then we will have proceeded to issue the licence.
Q When the new pricing for HMOs is being looked at, can we (SADLA / Landlords) talk to SCC?
A We use the Government’s cost calculator to determine the charges, but when it comes to looking at the new charges we are happy to speak to landlords about this
Q Would it be possible to invite landlords, or a selective few, when SCC officers are doing their HHSRS training to learn about the process? Landlords can then feed this back to other landlords/ SADLA members.
A This is a good idea. We are organising some training for HHSRS at the moment and will gladly offer any spare places to SADLA/SSLA members. We’re just looking at trainers and dates (and prices!), so will keep you posted on this
Q Are SCC looking for LD2 or LD3 fire detection systems for licensable HMOs?
A For shared houses, which form the bulk of our HMOs, this will be Grade D LD3 plus. In short, for the typical 3 storey student house with a direct means of escape there will be mains wired, interlinked smoke detection required on each landing/hall and in any living room and the cellar together with heat detection in the kitchen. (See also the answer to the first question above) For further details the standards are on the Councils website at www.sheffield.gov.uk/hmo – the standards are the first downloadable document at the foot of the page.
Q Why is the Responsible Landlord Scheme (RLS) membership 3 years but HMO licensing for 5 years?
A There is no particular reason for the difference except that HMO licensing can be a maximum of 5 years and the RLS was set up in 2003, before mandatory licensing came into effect. We are currently reviewing the RLS standards so we can certainly look at this. Also the RLS is for all private rented property and not just HMOs, so for most landlords it would probably not be an issue.
Q Landlord used to have regular meetings with the Housing benefits people about any issues, this seems to have stopped. Landlords/ SADLA would like these to be resurrected if possible?
A Dennis Tester will take this up with John Squire at SCC to see if this could be done.
Q What are the time scales for issuing HMO Licenses?
A They are due to be all sent out by the end of March 2010.
Q Will SCC negotiate on the schedule of works sent with the licence?
A Yes. We are encouraging all landlords to contact the officer named on the letters/info who will be very happy to explain anything and visit to clarify.