As all good HMO Landlords know, it is compulsory to have self closing fire doors.
Now, I’m not disparaging of their purpose in an HMO – protection for the rest of the house should a tenant start a bonfire in their room and, if the fire starts in the communal areas, protection for the tenant whilst he sleeps like a baby through the fire/smoke alarms. What really gets me and the tenants is the self closers.
These are mandatory to pass your licence and I’ve experienced both chain and hydraulic types and, if pressed, would have to choose the chain variety.
Chain based self closing fire doors
Hydraulic Self Closing Fire Doors
If you’re a tenant and have run out of wardrobe space, where do you hang your coat? On the self closing arm of course!
The hanger then gets caught in the arm and, hey presto, the door stops self closing.
To me they also seem more powerful: my Granny is in a dementia home and they have fire doors on all the bedrooms (fair enough, the residents are far too frail to jump out of the window in the event of a fire and aren’t allowed to escape from the building anyway), but she really does struggle to open her door and needs a carer to hold it open for her whilst she walks gingerly into the hall – try doing THAT whilst pushing a walking frame!
Anyway, self closing fire doors also come with other shortcomings: new tenants into an HMO will on average forget to grab their keys before the self closers kick in. It can takes them two or three times of being shut out before they learn!
The call comes in from another tenant’s mobile and I try to get there as quickly as possible only to find the tenant in his/her dressing gown clutching a toilet roll and sporting a sheepish or annoyed look. Sometimes, they don’t bother with the dressing gown and are huddled in a foetal position on the top stair looking very sorry for themselves.
I’m researching various solutions to this as it makes it very difficult for me to go away.
Tenants tend to wait until I’m on a train, plane, car heading OUT of the area to let me know they’re locked out or manage to do it late at night on the weekend when I’m otherwise engaged at the pub. One idea has been to install a security key safe for each room which individual codes, so the tenant can access their spare key without having to call me. This is possible and I have one outside my front door which is useful on the occasions when myself or my children have accidentally left our keys somewhere.
Here’s another solution : train the tenants to put the thumb turns (Yale locks) on the latch when they go for a pee!
Do you have any others ideas?