En-suites make it ‘separate dwellings’?

En-suites make it ‘separate dwellings’?

11:08 AM, 14th March 2022, About 2 years ago 5

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I’m upgrading a 5-bed student house in Stoke-on-Trent to provide en-suite bathrooms in each room plus a separate visitor toilet.

The electrician says I’ll need a fire alarm system as the house will be 5 separate units. I pointed out to him that the tenants sign a joint contract as a group, and they have shared kitchen and living room facilities, so they are not in individual units.

Normal HMO rules apply (5 tenants or more) and I need a licence from the council which I have already discussed with them, but a fire alarm system has not been mentioned before.

Am I right, or is the electrician?

Thanks in advance for any comments.


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Des Taylor & Phil Turtle, Landlord Licensing & Defence

12:05 PM, 14th March 2022, About 2 years ago

If it’s over 3 floors as a HMO you will require a Grade A coverage LD2 (including bedrooms) panel system
If it’s over 2 floors as an HMO you’ll need a Grade D1 installation coverage LD2 (including bedrooms) system with mains powered alarms interconnected by wire or wireless)

Either way you should get a professional Fire Risk Assessment done

Grumpy Doug

13:00 PM, 14th March 2022, About 2 years ago

Chris. Assuming 2 floors, when the council inspect your house for your HMO licence, they will expect to see interconnected alarms. Certainly hall, landing, kitchen and lounge. Maybe bedrooms - talk to them first. You'll also need to address fire doors and/or fire escape windows in the bedrooms, lounge, kitchen. They're not separate units and please avoid any discussion of that! Keep it to a single AST. Good luck! Been there, done that

Rob Crawford

14:54 PM, 14th March 2022, About 2 years ago

The definitions used to define households for council tax etc are very different to that determining fire regulations. With 5 bedrooms and assuming tenants are unrelated you will need to licence the HMO under mandatory licensing. Irrespective of the type of contract. Go to your Local Authorities website and find the requirements for mandatory licensing. It will detail what fire safety requirements are expected to get a licence.


16:08 PM, 14th March 2022, About 2 years ago

Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

Better this unexpected cost now to ensure you are compliant, than the risk of it getting picked up when the council get round to inspecting the property, when you have to retro fit the system and redecorate with tenants in the property and the risk of a fine.

Yvonne Francis

17:20 PM, 14th March 2022, About 2 years ago


I think you will need a fire panel and fire detectors. I have rented for over forty years two large HMO's and found the fire regs. a real pain. The system has to be checked twice a year and the bell has to be tested weekly and all records kept. If you let to a  group on a joint tenancy then in no way does the ensuite bathrooms make these separate units. 

On another topic I know landlords expect higher rents if they have ensuite bathrooms but I find students would just as well share bathrooms, if, as it does, make the rent cheaper.

If you click on the link and go down a bit, you can download your regulations for Stoke-on-Trent. Best of luck.

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