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  • HMO & Multi-Lets

    HMO Sprinklers

    Just watching Parliament

    It has been raised that new build and HMO rental property should be fitted with sprinklers.

    What is meant by an HMO!?

    Southwark LL have 3 bed normal flats occupied by three separate tenant households being designated as HMO and being required to be licensed!

    The only way LL may avoid such designation is to return the letting to single household occupancy.

    So if a property would be designated as an HMO LL will have to boot out tenants and replace with single households, so avoiding HMO status, and sprinkler installation.

    Would such properties be viable on single lettings?

    Would every HMO LL be able to retrofit sprinklers in official HMO and not the stupid Southwark Council version.

    It seems that any property is considered by a council as an HMO if more than 1 single household occupies it.

    There is simply no way that sprinkler installation would be viable in every technical HMO.

    It would result in mass homelessness as no way will LL retrofit sprinklers in what are currently bog standard residential properties.

    We could see a mass sell off of larger properties are required to have sprinklers.

    This sprinkler issue must give many LL pause for thought as to whether they wish to invest in property types which due to tenant makeup could result in in sprinkler installation requirements.

    It could even reach the stage where I have to evict one of my tenant sharers as it is IMPOSSIBLE to retrofit sprinklers in my block.

    So I may have to revert to single household occupancy.

    This I would struggle to achieve.

    Such sprinkler requirements could have severe detrimental effects on certain property values.

    Grenfell and its effects could be long lasting and extremely detrimental for the PRS.

    It seems investing in other than single lettings is unwise until this sprinkler issue for HMO or alleged HMO is resolved.

    Of course this sprinkler issue is not a bad one as far as safety is concerned.

    But for many LL any such requirements will change the PRS investment strategy for many existing and new LL


    They base "current" requirements by assessing not what type of property it is - but - by how long it would take someone to get from their front door to the fire escape. If its over X minutes higher precautions are supposed to be used, I imagine this will also be the basis of sprinkler use (if any requirement).

    Unless its a vote - anything they say in parliament is just padding.



    The above post is not financial advice, its often me rambling - passing time on a coffee break.
    If you are looking for the Best BTL Mortgage? Call the Specialist Team at Bespoke Finance.


    In this context an HMO is any property occupied by three or more people who do not form one family. This proposal is based on what has happened in Wales which now requires that a property which is built or converted for HMO use has sprinklers fitted. This is a pretty onerous requirement but it is not as massive as it once was as the technology has improved dramatically.

    David Smith
    Landlord & Tenant Solicitor
    Anthony Gold Solicitors

    Find me on LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/in/dsnsmith

    All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of my firm. No comment made should be taken as legal advice and you should consult a solicitor or other legal professional for advice on your specific situation.

    So if I understand your explanation as far as the Wales situation is concerned.

    I buy a bog standard 3 bed terrace property in Wales.

    I decide to take in 3 single tenant households with one AST.

    It seems that should I choose this tenant makeup I now have to install sprinklers!!

    Such sprinkler installation would mitigate against the value of the property.

    Not many resi buyers will want ugly sprinkler pipes etc running around the property.

    So we could see that it will be no longer viable for LL to let to other than single households.

    Such requirements would have devastating effects on the PRS..

    Sprinkler installation is onerous along with the costs of.

    It simply isn't worth LL retrofitting.

    LL will just reduce to single households and if that isn't viable they will have to sell up.

    Clearly the current Welsh practice is unaffordable for existing LL with HMO designated properties.

    Of course there is a case for all new or heavily refurbished properties to be fitted with sprinklers.

    Such installations can be made aesthetically pleasing such as to not mitigate against property values.

    There is also a bit of an issue with sprinklers.

    That of water pressure.

    There is insufficient pressure to power a combined boiler on a first floor let alone a sprinkler system which could actuate from multiple sprinkler heads.

    Normally additional water storage tanks are required.

    Sprinkler installation in domestic properties is just not that easy or even practical.


    Good question @paul_barrett!

    In North Wales, one of the local councils has deemed our clients' flats to be within an HMO.  Eight separate flats, with their own front doors, own kitchens, own bathrooms, within a three storey plus basement building.  And it's now an HMO.  No instructions yet on fitting sprinkler systems for this building, but from David Smith's comment about properties in Wales, perhaps it's coming?

    All the best



    Sprinklers are only a suggested situation in England.

    But this whole sprinkler situation  will be seen through the prism of Grenfell Tower.

    There is simply no way if I had the ability to do so would I invest in any HMO or consider converting a property to a HMO

    Nor would I be considering properties which are unaffordable for single households.

    Makes you wonder whether 1 bed properties will become even more desirable!?

    Two or 3 bed properties will have to be affordable to a single household.

    98% of two bed flats on my development are occupied by two or more households.

    None of them could be retrofitted with sprinklers.

    None of them are affordable for single households.

    But if Wales is requiring sprinklers it can't be long before ALL of the UK has to follow suit.

    This could result in mass homelessness of tenants.

    LL have enough to comply with what with EPC, S24 etc, etc.

    I just don't see how the PRS could cope.

    I suppose LL could relatively easily just resort to single dwelling occupancy.

    Doing that would result in reduced rental income

    There would be millions of homeless tenants.

    Of course the questions I raise could be a complete fantasy as NO Govt would dream of requiring bog standard properties deemed to be HMO would be required to fit sprinklers.

    I hope I am completely incorrect in my suspicions that sprinklers might be required.

    I just have a feeling that with the Grenfell paranoia that such precautions might be required.

    What would be the outcry if a 5 bed HMO went up and 5 resident tenants were killed.

    As a licensed HMO it would have all the correct fire protection measures, but NO sprinklers!

    What would the public clamour be!?

    I'm glad I'm not a licensed HMO LL.

    I believe that there will be a massive change to fire precautions in the UK and PRS LL will be dragged into the morass as well.

    Perhaps this would be no bad idea, but it is going to cost LL dearly.

    Perhaps the Welsh experience will be considered as best practice.

    From a tenant perspective it may seem perfectly reasonable that their HMO should have sprinklers fitted.

    Many LL would object to such requirements.

    Currently it is relatively easy to return a HMO to a single dwelling household

    Retrofitting sprinklers will give a rather institutional feel to such a property.

    I would imagine it would not be readily saleable as a single dwelling with sprinklers everywhere.

    I doubt lenders would accept such a property until all sprinklers had been stripped out!?


    After such a horrible kicking this Gov have given LLs recently - I fear this Grenfell Tragedy is going to cause another kicking, i would not be surprised if all HMOs are told to now fit Sprinklers retrospectively.....basically a final nail in the coffin for HMO PS LLs


    There could well be some changes after the Grenfell tragedy, but any Govt./council that imposes sprinkler requirements on say 2 storey 5 bed properties will be taking things way out of proportion I feel.

    Each type of property should be assessed accordingly and not a 'one size fits all' strategy that compares the above property with a Grenfell type tower-block. There is absolutely no comparison.


    You are correct in your logical sentiments!

    Trouble is Govt is not logical.

    They are driven by a political imperative.

    Therefore it would be very easy for Govt and Councils to require all those private rental properties that are deemed to be HMO will be required to install sprinklers.

    This will just force LL to reduce the number of households and substantially reduce the availability of rental stock meaning many more homeless.

    Trouble is there is a danger of the PRS being swept up wholesale by this sprinkler debate.

    Calm heads need to prevail.

    I just don't think they will!!

    I hope your sensible logic is followed

    I just wouldn't bet my house on that being the case!


    LACORS does discuss the pros & cons of sprinklers, they do sound an attractive option for the future LL.


    It would be interesting to know what the costs would be for fitting sprinklers into a property that was going to be heavily refurbished.

    It would be at such a situation that sprinkler installation could be viable.

    Could sprinkler installation become a selling feature for new build property?

    After all it would all be integrated with just sprinkler heads projecting from ceilings etc.

    For LL looking to convert a property to an HMO sprinkler installation would presumably be a good bet and certainly must assist marketing of the HMO for letting or even resale purposes.

    My understanding is that domestic sprinklers are now an affordable option.

    Retro fitting would be a problem which is why for new HMO and new build I reckon sprinklers will be required.

    Like it or not when sprinklers actuate they are highly effective.

    So you might save a property from burning down, but you will have a soggy one where the head has actuated!!