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Housing health and safety rating system

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 are 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 to 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 opens in new window)

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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.

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

The council undertake 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).

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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.

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How is the housing, health and safety rating system enforced?

The council have a duty to take the most appropriate action to resolve all serious (category 1) hazards and the power to take action on all less serious (category 2) hazards found during a property inspection. The public protection enforcement policysets out the principles of how housing law will be enforced. 

In the first instance, the council will approach the property owner informally to try and resolve the hazards found, however, where this is unsuccessful the council can require them to remove or minimise the hazards by serving a formal notice. If the property owner fails to comply with the notice the council may decide to prosecute them.

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).

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