§ Mr. Hanson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to encourage the fitting of smoke alarms in flats of multiple occupation; and what plans he has to make their fitting compulsory.
§ Mr. Robert B. Jones
Local authorities have powers under part XI of the Housing Act 1985, as amended, to require houses in multiple occupation—HMOs—to have692W adequate means of escape from fire and other fire precautions. They have a statutory responsibility to ensure adequate fire safety precautions in HMOs with three storeys or more and with a floor space exceeding 500 sqm.
My Department's Circular 12/92 contains the current guidance on fire precaution standards in HMOs. For smoke and fire detection, the minimum standard recommended for two-storey houses is for single-point smoke alarms. For houses of three-storeys or more, L2 fire warning systems are recommended.
The Housing (Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation) Regulations 1990 (SI 1990 No. 830) require managers of HMOs to ensure that all fire precautions are in and are maintained in good order and repair.
The Government also published a consultation paper in November 1994 inviting views by 18 February 1995 on the desirability of introducing a licensing system for HMOs in England and Wales.