Sensitivity in inspection visits

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It is important for all inspecting officers to be aware that they are visiting someone’s home, and to behave with sensitivity to that situation. Both the scheduling of visits and the behaviour of inspecting officers may need to take account of religious and cultural issues. Language issues may also arise, with either occupiers or HMO owners, and interpreting services (both for other languages and for special communication needs) should be made available where necessary.

4.12.7             Occupiers should have been made aware of the inspection by the HMO owner, but it may be necessary to explain again why officers need to enter their rooms. In some cases the HMO owner or occupiers may be distressed or angry if changes to the property are suggested, so officers should be trained to deal sensitively with difficult reactions. Where occupiers are particularly vulnerable, for example in a womens’ refuge or accommodation for people with community care needs, officers may wish to make special arrangements, being guided by the HMO owner or support workers. It may help, for example, to schedule extra time to meet with the occupiers in a communal area before inspecting their private rooms.

Dealing with queries from architects and property managers

4.12.8             Local authorities should ensure that they give consistent and useful advice to professionals such as architects and property managers who are thinking of converting or building premises expected to be licensable as HMOs. The detailed physical standards are set out in Annex A and the general physical standards are set out in Part 4.3. These are intended to provide reference points to help determine whether an HMO provides an acceptable level of accommodation and they should be applied flexibly. Local authorities should also advise of any standard licensing conditions for physical standards that they routinely apply. Professionals will benefit from early and clear advice on the desired standards, and this should assist in ongoing compliance.


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