If you’ve considered buying property in the UK, you’ve probably looked at HMOs (house of multiple occupation).
It’s the UK version of a multi-let and great for your property portfolio.
For advantages like diversification and reduced dependency on any one tenant.
Yet, like anything good, it does come with complications and regulations.
A big part of HMO fire regulations is the fire assessment that includes HMO Fire Doors.
If you’re a property investor or developer and looking to buy and rent out your next HMO then this article is for you.
I’ll cover key information about fire doors, what you need to comply, where to install, specifications, cost and how to get them cheaper.
So read on.
- Does My Kitchen Need A Fire Door?
- Do Bedroom Doors Have To Be Fire Doors?
- Living Room
- Bathroom Or Toilet
What Are HMO Fire Doors?
HMO Fire Doors are the type of internal doors that help provide a safe escape from the property in an event of a fire.
They are different to standard internal doors.
They’re made of fire-resistant material (solid timber) and can contain a fire for up to 120 minutes (depending on the spec).
Does A HMO Need Fire Doors?
Yes, it’s a regulation to fit HMOs with Fire Doors.
This includes one for each bedroom, living room and one for each entry point of the kitchen.
As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to protect your tenants and make sure that exit corridors are well protected and isolated.
This allows for an easy escape in case of a fire.
What The Regulation Says
A report published by the Home Office in September 2019, showed that 297 HMOs had a fire across the UK between September 2012 — September 2018.
You can see how paramount fire safety is.
HMOs are a part of the Housing Act of 2004 and are controlled by Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO).
The Order designates the landlord or managing agent as the “Responsible Person” (RP) for Fire Safety and compliance.
The Government has also published the Sleeping Accommodation Guide that applies to HMOs and blocks of flats.
This Guide goes into detail about how the Responsible Person can ensure the property is safe and compliant.
It gives guidance on how to do a Fire Risk Assessment, risks to consider and a ton of advice on how to maximise safety.
For more complex properties like 7 bed+ HMOs or larger developments, it’s best to work with an expert.
You’ll need to work with someone who has comprehensive knowledge and training in assessing these types of properties.
Fire Doors are an important part of Fire Risk Assessments.
Where Do You Need Fire Doors?
In the case of HMOs, all doors leading to an escape route need to be fire doors.
Hannah Mansell, spokesperson for Fire Door Safety Week, conducted by the The British Woodworking Federation Group says
“Fire doors play a key role in passive fire protection, but their importance is often overlooked. These resources will arm landlords and tenants with the information they need to tackle any fire door problems in a building. At a time when fire safety is under such scrutiny, no one can afford to make any mistakes.”https://www.firedoorsafetyweek.co.uk/toolkit/fire-doors-in-hmos/
Does My Kitchen Need A Fire Door?
Yes, as a high-risk area it’s imperative that your kitchen has a fire door, one for each point of entry.
Due to the presence of high-risk activities like cooking and appliances like the oven, hob, or boiler, the risk of a fire is high.
Especially since many people from different backgrounds, experience and knowledge use the kitchen.
Do Bedroom Doors Have To Be Fire Doors?
Yes, bedrooms have to be fitted with fire doors.
If there’s a fire it will isolate that room and reduce the fire spread into the corridor and across the house.
All bedroom fire doors and the main building entrance doors should have a thumb-turn on the inside to allow escape in case of fire.
In an event of a fire, the tenant escaping the bedroom would run out the door, down the corridor, stairs and out the house through the front door.
So all bedrooms and loft conversions need to have with fire doors.
Although lower risk than the kitchen or bathroom, living rooms should have fire doors.
Living rooms often contain a television or other electrical equipment that may cause a fire to spread.
Hence, it’s necessary to install fire doors that separate the living room from the corridor.
Bathroom Or Toilet
No, it’s not a legal need to use Fire Doors in the bathroom or toilet (WC) unless there’s a boiler installed within.
So if the boiler is downstairs in the kitchen, loft or storage room, you don’t need to install fire doors in the bathroom.
Specs of a Fire Door
OK, now you know that you need fire doors (there’s no escaping that).
And you know that you need them in the bedrooms, kitchens and living room.
But what kind of fire door do you need?
FD30 & FD60 Fire Doors
Although there are a few different types of fire doors, the most common used are FD30 and FD60.
FD30 Fire Doors offer 30-minute fire protection while FD60 offers 60-minute fire protection.
Which one to use, depends on the layout and size of your HMO but most HMOs should be fine with an FD30 door.
Manufacturers do all sorts of simulations and tests to determine the FD rating of fire doors.
These include subjecting both sides of the door to severe heat and pressure conditions that would be typical of a real fire.
The door’s integrity is then tested and assessed against safety standards before certifying.
The British Woodworking Federation (BWF) defines the safety standard and certifies Fire Doors.
The most common standards are:
- FD30 (30 minutes rating)
- FD60 (60 minutes rating)
- FD90 (90 minutes rating)
- FD120 (120 minutes rating)
As I said before, FD30 is by far the most common and widely used fire door in HMOs.
All fire doors should have self-closing arms or door closers and clearly marked for an easy exit.
What Are Fire Doors Made Of?
Fire doors are made of timber, glass, aluminium, gypsum and steel.
Some doors also include windows within made from ceramic glass, liquid sodium silicate and wire mesh glass.
The liquid sodium silicate can be used to insulate the head while the wired glass is certified fire-resistant.
Fire doors are also fitted with intumescent seals and cold smoke seals.
When there’s a fire or the ambient temperature gets above 200 degrees celsius, these seals expand and seal the gap between the door and frame.
This protects the door from falling off its hinges and maintains safety and isolation.
How To Maintain Your Fire Doors
Fire doors are an important part of protecting an HMO in an event of an unfortunate emergency.
Some basic protection and maintenance can go a long way in extending the life of your fire doors up to 10–20 years.
Every 6 months (ideally) you should inspect:
- Intumescent seals for damage, wear and tear.
- Locks, hinges, latches, closers and floor springs for damage.
- The surface material for chips and cracks.
Can I Paint A Fire Door?
Yes, you can paint a fire door.
However, care must be taken to not paint over the critical stickers and markings that show the fire rating and other safety cautions.
Also do not paint over the Intumescent seals, hinges or stoppers that may affect its ability to function effectively.
Cost Of HMO Fire Doors And Where To Buy
Now the important bit. You know you need fire doors, where to install them and what type.
But how much do they cost and where’s the best place to buy them?
An entire fire door set that comprises
- FD30 Fire Door
should cost around £300 — £350 (including VAT).
You may be able to get them for cheaper if you go via a builder’s trade account or register with the National Residential Landlord’s Association (NRLA).
Some stores that sell High-Quality Fire Doors include
- Travis Perkins
Shop around to find the best deal. Or ask your builder or architect as they may have a trade account and can offer you a discount.
Some builders can get for as cheap as £80-£100 per door.
I hope this article helped you learn more about Fire Doors and what exactly you need to use to get your HMO compliant and up to speed.
Firstly, conduct a thorough Fire Risk Assessment as per the Sleeping Guide recommendations.
Then get a few FD30 fire doors for your kitchen, bedrooms, living room and you should be golden. Go via the NRLA or your builder to potentially get them cheaper.
Make sure to keep them clean, painted and well maintained.
If you’d like to talk to an architect that’s helped hundreds of people get their HMOs fire compliant across the country, please get in touch.
We’d love to help you.