Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

Assessing the condition of a dwelling and if enforcement action needs to be taken

What is the HHSRS?

The Housing Act 2004 Part 1: Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is a risk assessment tool used to assess the condition of a dwelling. The key principle is that the dwelling, including the structure and associated outbuildings and garden/yard, and means of access, should provide a safe and healthy environment for the occupants and any visitors.

The assessment looks at the likelihood of an occurrence over a 12 month period that could cause harm to a member of a vulnerable group, and the potential severity of the harm outcome of such an occurrence. An example of this is how likely is a fire to break out and what will happen if one does. The assessment will show whether any serious (Category 1) hazards and other less serious (Category 2) hazards exist.  To make an assessment reference will be made to the HHSRS Operating Guidance

Landlords and managing agents must assess their properties to determine whether there are any serious hazards.  If hazards are identified, improvements or repairs must be carried out to remove the risk or reduce the risk to an acceptable level. 

  • Tenants of private sector accommodation or social housing should always contact their landlord if they are concerned about the condition of their home.
  • Homeowners may also ask for advice from Private Sector Housing if they are concerned about the condition of their home. 

Hazards

There are 29 hazards which can be assessed for seriousness under the HHSRS. These hazards are listed in the table below.

Hazard Group Hazard Sub-Group
Physiological Requirements Damp and mould growth
Excess cold
Excess heat
Asbestos(and MMF)
Biocides
Carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products
Lead
Radiation
Un-combusted fuel gas
Volatile Organic Compounds
Psychological Requirements    Crowding and space
Entry by intruders
Lighting
Noise
Protection Against Infection Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse
Food safety
Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage
Water supply for domestic purpose
Protection Against Accidents Falls associated with baths
Falling on level surfaces
Falling on stairs and steps
Falling between levels
Electrical hazards
Fire
Flames, hot surfaces
Collision and entrapment
Explosions
Position and operability of amenities
Structural collapse and failing elements

Enforcement Action

If a Category 1 Hazard is identified the council has a duty to take the most appropriate course of action to ensure the hazard is removed or reduced to an acceptable level. The council will always work with the owner/landlord who must remove or reduce the hazard within a reasonable period of time.  Where improvements are not made within a reasonable time period the council may take formal action. 

  • The notices/orders will be registered as a local land charge, and will affect the future sale of the property if not removed. 
  • There is also a charge of £324.00 for serving a notice/order.

The types of formal action will be dependent on how serious the case is and may include:

1) Hazard Awareness Notice

A hazard awareness notice informs the owner/landlord that a hazard requires attention but further formal action is unlikely to be taken unless conditions worsen or further hazards arise.  A hazard awareness notice will not appear on the Register of Local Land Charges.

2) Improvement Notice

An improvement notice will require works to be carried out within a defined period of time to remove a category 1 or category 2 hazard.  If the works are not carried out the council may prosecute the person responsible for not complying with the notice and/or carry out the works itself and recharge the owner.

3) Prohibition Order

A prohibition order prevents the use of all or part of a property until such time as works are carried out to remove the hazards identified, however, the order will not specify a time period for them to be carried out.  It is an offence to occupy a property in contravention of a prohibition order.

4) Emergency Action

In extreme cases the council may take urgent action to deal with hazards presenting an immediate risk to the health and safety of the occupiers by either prohibiting the use of the property (emergency prohibition order) or by carrying out urgent repairs (emergency remedial action).  The council will seek to recover all costs incurred from the owner as a result of emergency action.

5) Demolition Orders and Clearance Areas

The council has powers to order the demolition of dwellings with category 1 or category 2 hazards, however it is very rare for these powers to be used as other powers may be more appropriate.

How to Appeal

There is a right of appeal against any formal notice, order or decision made by the council.  All appeals should be made to a Residential Property Tribunal and must be made within a specified time from the date the notice was served.  Tribunals are informal bodies and do not operate like courts.  They will hear cases presented by each side.  The Tribunal may confirm, cancel or change the notice, order or decision.

Last Updated: 16 July 2020