The Housing Health and Safety Rating System, Housing Act 2004

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As a landlord, you will know that you have many regulations to follow. It is difficult for landlords to remain in touch with the latest regulations but a failure to do so can be costly for business. It is imperative that you follow health and safety regulations, and you’ll find that the Housing Act 2004 is extremely important and relevant for landlords.

The Act contains the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, which is more commonly referred to as the HHSRS. This is a system that assesses the condition of homes and it replaced the test of fitness for human habitation which was found in the Housing Act 1985.

The HHSRS provides the mechanism for local council authorities to:

  • Undertake the inspection of rental property
  • Identify where specific hazards are found and whether they are present in the property
  • Categorises hazards with respect to relevant criteria

Given that HHSRS provides local authorities with the power to undertake enforcement steps, it is vital that landlords are aware of the risks and threat to their business. It is important to be aware that HHSRS doesn’t apply a single standard to all properties. Not all buildings are the same, and it would be wrong to impose the same standard on all properties.

HHSRS aims to evaluate the impact of any risks

HHSRS is more flexible in that it identifies risks and hazards while evaluating the likely impact on the health and safety risks that will be experienced by the occupier and any guests they have in the property.

A property should be:

  • Designed, constructed and maintained with the use of non-hazardous materials
  • Be free from avoidable and unnecessary hazards
  • Offer a sufficient standard of protection from all likely hazards

It is important to be aware that HHSRS doesn’t concern itself with the cost of making a property safe, it is only concerned with the actual risks to health and safety. A landlord will obviously have to consider the financial implications of meeting the expected health and safety standards, but to ensure their property is classed as suitable for rental accommodation, risks will have to be minimised or removed.

The guidance will provide information on:

  • The hazard itself
  • Statistical analysis of the potential for harm
  • Causes of harm, including any causes that have arisen due to human behaviour
  • Preventative measures that should be undertaken at the property
  • The standard of condition the property should be in

Any factors that may impact on risk and severity of harm associated with the hazard

There are many psychological aspects which can see a house be considered as being a risk including excessive cold, excessive heat, dampness, asbestos, lead, radiation and biocides. There are also psychological factors to consider including noise, lighting, the ease of access by intruders, space and crowding.

A property should protect its occupants

The property should also provide a level of protection against infection which covers the water supply while also covering sanitation, food safety, personal and hygiene issues. It is also important for rental property to provide safety against trips, slips and accidents wherever possible.

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System, Housing Act 2004

After an inspection has been carried out, a report will be issued which states the deficiencies (if any) and whether these deficiencies contribute to hazards and whether a hazard is worse than average for the type of property. The report will also state the likelihood that an issue arises due to the hazard within the next 12 months and whether vulnerable people or age groups are at risk because of the hazard.

It is important that landlords are aware of the risks associated with hazards and that the information provided in a report must be acted upon.

If you are a landlord concerned about caring for your property and tenants, knowing how local councils review hazards will be of benefit. If you need assistance in caring for your property, get in touch and I will be happy to assist you.

Matylda Nowak

CEO, Kings Accommodation

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