Under the Housing Act 2004 we (as the local authority) have a duty to ensure that housing standards throughout the county meet acceptable levels.
We can do this by using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System to carry out a risk assessment on the property, which will identify whether there are any hazards present.
What is the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)?
The HHSRS is a risk-based evaluation tool used by local authorities to assess the suitability of residential dwellings for occupation.
The system allows a property to be assessed for potential risks and hazards to health and safety. From this assessment we can determine how safe the property is for the occupants and any visitors.
It is the basis for determining whether works should be undertaken to improve a property so that it is free from unnecessary and avoidable hazards.
What types of hazards does the HHSRS cover?
The HHSRS assesses 29 categories of housing hazards that might affect health and safety, including problems with:
- damp and mould growth
- excessive noise
- excessive cold or heat
- poor lighting
- the security of the property
- asbestos or dangerous gases
- dangerous electrical installations
- fire safety and means of escape
- trip, slip or fall hazards
- the structural safety of the property
How are hazards rated using the HHSRS?
The HHSRS gives a rating score to any hazards found by an inspector. Each hazard has a weighting to help score it and determine whether it is rated as ‘category 1’ (serious) or ‘category 2’ (other).
The rating score given to hazards is based on the following two elements:
- The likelihood of harm occurring over the following year from the hazard
- The probable severity of that harm to occupants should it occur
A hazard is more likely to be rated as being a category 1 hazard if the following applies:
- an accident or harm is very likely to occur
- the outcome would likely be very serious, particularly for people that would be at extra risk of harm (such as older people or children)
What can happen if hazards are found?
Category 1 hazards
If a category 1 hazard is found, we (as the local authority) have a duty to take action to reduce the risk to occupants or potential occupants.
This action may be informal action at first, by trying to work with a landlord to request that they make the property safe.
If the landlord refuses to make the property safe then we can take formal action to get the repairs done, this could be by:
- serving your landlord a hazard awareness notice
- serving your landlord an improvement notice
- taking emergency action
- carrying out works in default
If there is no practical way of reducing hazards to an acceptable level we may have to consider making a prohibition order, or another course of action if required.
Tenants would be copied into any notices or orders that are served on the property.
There may be some types of hazards that can’t be easily fixed, but the risk of suffering harm could be reduced by an alternative method in the meantime (for example if a steep staircase is a hazard, the risk of falling could be reduced by the correct positioning of banisters and handrail).
Category 2 hazards
If a category 2 hazard is found, we (as the local authority) have discretionary powers available to act on the hazard.
Houses in multiple occupation (HMO) standards
As well as meeting the housing standards that are assessed in the HHSRS, HMOs that need a licence have to meet additional standards. This includes standards for space, heating, washing facilities and safety.
Contact us to request a HHSRS assessment
Most private landlords do carry out repairs once they know about them. However, if your landlord fails to carry out repair work in a reasonable period of time once you have reported an issue, you should contact us to request a HHSRS assessment.
You can request an inspection by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (if your query is urgent you can call 01978 292040). When making a request please provide us with as much information as you can about the issues(s).