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Landlord guide to the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System, or HHSRS, is an official set of procedures for assessing health and safety risks in residential properties.

These procedures were introduced by the Housing Act 2004 and came into force in 2006, replacing the 'fitness for human habitation' rules of the Housing Act 1985.

The Landlord and Tenant Health and Safety Rating System

The Landlord and Tenant Health and Safety Rating System is a way for landlords to help ensure that their tenants are living in safe and healthy conditions. The system rates the condition of a rental property on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest possible score. Landlords can use the rating system to compare different properties and make sure that they are providing their tenants with safe and healthy housing.

The Health and Safety Rating System is based on a number of factors, including the condition of the property, the presence of any hazards, and the level of cleanliness. Properties that score well on the rating system are more likely to be free from health and safety hazards, and tenants who live in these properties can be assured that they are living in safe and healthy conditions.

Landlords who are interested in using the Health and Safety Rating System can contact their local health department or the Health and Safety Executive for more information.

What is the worst that can happen if a Landlord ignores Health and Safety?

If a landlord ignores health and safety hazards on their property, they are putting their tenants at risk of injury or even death. Health and safety hazards can include things like mould, lead paint, asbestos, electrical hazards, and gas leaks. Tenants who live in properties with these hazards are at an increased risk of developing serious health problems, and in some cases, the hazards can be fatal.

Landlords who ignore health and safety hazards may also be breaking the law. In England and Wales, the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 requires landlords to take steps to ensure that their properties are safe and free from health and safety hazards. If a landlord fails to do this, they could be prosecuted and fined up to £20,000.

Tenants who are concerned about health and safety hazards on their property should contact their landlord or the local authority for help. If you are a tenant in England or Wales and you think your landlord has failed to address a health and safety hazard on your property, you can make a complaint to the Health and Safety Executive.

Can a Tenant leave a property without notice of there are serious Health and Safety issues?

Yes. If a tenant believes that there are serious health and safety hazards on their property, they can give notice to their landlord and leave the property without having to pay any rent. This is known as "abandonment".

Tenants who abandon their property should take steps to ensure that the property is safe and secure before they leave. This includes things like turning off all the gas and electricity, removing all personal belongings, and making sure that all doors and windows are locked. Tenants should also notify the local authority of their intention to abandon the property.

What are some tips for Landlords on how to make sure their property is Health and Safety compliant?

There are a number of things that landlords can do to make sure that their property is compliant with Health and Safety regulations. These include:

- Carrying out regular checks of the property to identify any hazards

- Addressing any hazards that are found as soon as possible

- Keeping the property clean and well-maintained

- Ensuring that all gas and electrical appliances are safe and in good working order

- Providing tenants with information on how to stay safe while living in the property.

Landlords who are unsure of how to make their property compliant with Health and Safety regulations should contact their local authority or the Health and Safety Executive for more advice.

What is a hazard?

The HHSRS identifies a total of 29 potential hazards that are associated with or arising from:

Damp/mould growth Excess heat/cold Fire
Asbestos Crowding & space Radiation
Biocides Noise Water supply
Volatile Organic Compounds Lighting Explosions
Food safety Ergonomics Entrapment
Hygiene Intruders Hot surfaces
Lead Falls Electricity
Carbon monoxide Structural issues Uncombusted fuel gas

What happens when a hazard is discovered?

When a hazard is identified in a property, two tests are applied:

  • What is the likelihood of a dangerous event as a result of the hazard?
  • If there is a dangerous event, what would be the likely outcome?

The likelihood and the severity of the outcome are combined to produce a 'hazard score'. Hazard scores are divided into 10 bands, with band A being the most serious and band J the least serious. Hazards in bands A – C are called Category 1 hazards and those in band D – J are Category 2 hazards.

If a Local Authority discovers a Category 1 hazard in a property, it has a mandatory duty to take the most appropriate course of action.

If an authority discovers a Category 2 hazard, it has a discretionary power to take action if this is considered appropriate.

This table shows the actions that may be taken by local authorities:

ActionCategory 1 HazardsCategory 2 Hazards
Serve an Improvement Notice requiring remedial works ü ü
Make a Prohibition Order, which closes the whole or part of a dwelling or restricts the number or class of permitted occupants ü ü
Serve a suspended Improvement or Prohibition Notice ü ü
Serve a Hazard Awareness Notice ü ü
Take Emergency Remedial Action ü  
Serve an Emergency Prohibition Order ü  
Make a Demolition Order ü  
Declare a Clearance Area ü ü

Landlords who disagree with an assessment may appeal against it by first discussing it with the inspector and if necessary challenging it at the Residential Property Tribunal.

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