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Housing health and safety rating system

Housing, health and safety rating system, where it applies, inspections, rating system applied and enforced.

What is the housing, health and safety rating system?

In April 2006, the housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS) was introduced as a method for assessing housing conditions under the Housing Act 2004. The HHSRS is a risk-based assessment that places the emphasis on risks to health and safety and provides a system that allows any risks identified to be minimised or removed from a property. There is a total of 29 prescribed hazards that can be attributed to the condition and general state of a property.

If an officer from the council’s private sector housing team visits a property, whether it is after receiving a complaint from the occupier or during a routine housing inspection, they will look for hazards.  There may not be any obvious items of disrepair or structural problems within the property, however, the HHSRS is concerned with the potential risks associated with the health and safety of both the occupiers and any visitors.

The rating system is not a standard in itself, so it is sometimes difficult to say if something is definitely a hazard before it is properly assessed. However, the absence of a handrail on a flight of stairs, a failure to provide smoke alarms or the lack of adequate heating within a property may all result in hazards.

The following document provides a guide for landlords and managing agents on HHSRS.

Essential Information for Landlords and Agents (pdf 1mb)

Where does the housing, health and safety rating system apply?

The housing, health and safety rating system (HHSRS) can be used in all residential premises, including single houses and houses in multiple occupation (HMO) in both the private rented sector and owner occupation.

Who carries out housing, health and safety rating system inspections?

The council undertakes both proactive and reactive inspections of private sector housing within the East Riding of Yorkshire, with the aim of ensuring properties are free from hazards which could be a risk to the safety of the occupier or any visitors.

The inspections are carried out by either an environmental health officer or a technical officer from the council’s private sector housing team who have received training on the use of the housing, health and safety rating system (HHSRS).

A property owner who feels that an assessment is wrong can discuss the matter with the council officer involved and may also challenge a notice served through the Residential Property Tribunal Service (external website).

How is the housing, health and safety rating applied?

The housing, health and safety rating (HHSRS) assessment is based on the condition of the whole of the property. When making an assessment using HHSRS, the council officer inspects the entire property, including yards, outbuildings and gardens, where they will take photographs and make notes.

To ensure both accuracy and fairness, the paperwork side of the assessment will be undertaken after returning to the office using the guidance available and the information collected from the inspection. 

Once the assessment is complete it will show if there any serious issues called (category 1) hazards or other less serious issues called (category 2) hazards. The council officer will then decide what action is needed to correct the hazards found, which may include enforcement.

What action will the council take once a Category 1 hazard is identified?

The council as the Local Housing Authority has a duty under the provisions of the Housing Act 2004 (the Act) to address category one hazards identified in dwellings following an assessment using Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

Where a category one hazard is identified following the completion of an assessment under HHSRS, the Council in accordance with the Enforcement Concordat and Authority’s enforcement policy will determine the most appropriate action to remove or reduce that hazard. The Act provides a range of enforcement options depending on the hazard found and having regard to a number of factors, including the history of non-compliance and potential for harm, a decision may be made to proceed straight to the service of a notice which may incur a charge.

Alternatively, before taking formal enforcement action a “pre-statutory notice” letter with an accompanying schedule of works will be sent to the relevant person seeking representations and giving them the opportunity to consider the findings and consequences of the HHSRS assessment. This letter will provide an explanation as to what the potential consequences are if either, no representatives are made or the representation made is not considered satisfactory to rectify and or reduce the hazards within a reasonable timescale.

After 15 working days from sending the letter, should the relevant person have failed to provide either, representation or a sufficient undertaking that the category one hazard will be removed or reduced then the most appropriate notice under the Act will be served on them typically within a further 15 working days.

Failure to commence, make reasonable progress or to complete the work within any agreed timescales will require formal action to be considered and the most suitable notice will be served usually within 15 working days of this date which may incur a charge.