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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.

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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