What is it?
From 6 April 2006 in England and later in Wales, the new Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS) came into affect. It is a new risk assessment tool used to assess potential risks to the health and safety of occupants in residential properties. The HHSRS replaces the Housing Fitness Standard set out in the Housing Act 1985.
Why is it needed?
The HHSRS focuses on hazards that are most likely to be present in housing. Tackling these hazards will make more homes healthier and safer to live in. The HHSRS includes factors that affect physiological health such as damp and cold and psychological health such as noise and overcrowding.
Who is affected by the HHSRS?
Private landlords, owner occupiers and property management agents.
What type of properties is HHSRS used to assess?
It can be used to assess all residential dwellings.
How are properties assessed?
An environment health officer from the local authority will carry out assessments. A risk assessment looks at the likelihood of an incident arising from the condition of the property and the likely harmful outcome. Hazards are divided into two categories; category 1, serious hazards and category 2, less serious hazards.
What happens if a property contains serious hazards?
The local authority has a duty to take the most appropriate action in relation to the hazard. However local authorities are advised to try to deal with problems informally at first.
Where hazards have been identified by the council, we may serve informal notices on the owner, agent or other responsible person, which requires them to carry out works to remove or reduce the hazard. If this notice is not complied with, the council may then serve legal statutory notices.
If these further notices are not complied with (eg: the work is not carried out) then the council can at this stage proceed to take default action against the owner, agent, etc. What this means is that the council can arrange for the required works to be carried out by its own contractors, and will then seek to recover the costs from the owner, agent, etc.
For more information about default action, please see the "works in default" leaflet.