Housing Health and Safety Rating System

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System is a risk assessment tool used to assess potential risks to the health and safety of occupants in residential properties in England and Wales. The legislation came into effect in England on 6th April 2006.

HHSRS replaces the Housing Fitness Standard, which was set out in the Housing Act 1985.

See also: Housing Act 1985 on the UK Legislation website

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Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy

New powers to help local authorities address the problem of substandard properties run by so-called rogue landlords were introduced on 1st April 2017. There include the use of civil penalties of up to £30,000 for offences such as failing to comply with a formal improvement notice under the Housing Act 2004.

In order to use these powers, Adur & Worthing Councils have updated the Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy, which was passed by the JSC on 10th October 2017: 

You can read the Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy below:

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Making homes healthier and safer

The assessment method focuses on the hazards that are most likely to be present in housing. Tackling these hazards will make more homes healthier and safer to live in. The Fitness Standard did not deal with or dealt inadequately with cold and the risk of falls, for example.

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Who does HHSRS affect?

All owners and landlords, including social landlords.

The private sector contains some of the worst housing conditions and owners and landlords should be aware that any future inspections of their property will be made using HHSRS.

Private landlords and managing agents are advised to assess their property to determine whether there are serious hazards that may cause a health or safety risk to tenants. They should then carry out improvements to reduce the risks.

Public sector landlords also need to incorporate HHSRS into their stock condition surveys. To be decent, homes should be free of category 1 hazards. Landlords should incorporate HHSRS into their next planned stock condition survey and deal with category 1 hazards during planned refurbishment.

Tenants should be aware of the approach that will be taken by the council to deal with bad housing conditions. It still has discretion over the action it takes but it is more likely to prioritise cases where there is some evidence of serious hazards.

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How a risk assessment works

A risk assessment looks at the likelihood of an incident arising from the condition of the property and the likely harmful outcome. For example, how likely is a fire to break out and what will happen if one does?

The assessment will show the presence of any serious (Category 1) hazards and other less serious (Category 2) hazards.

To make an assessment, council inspectors will make reference to the HHSRS Operating Guidance.

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Information on the hazards that are assessed are explained on the gov.uk website, along with links to the HHSRS Operating Guidance. For more information see:

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HHSRS enforcement and penalties

If the Council discovers serious Category 1 hazard in a home, it has a duty to take the most appropriate action.

The Council will try and deal with problems informally at first. If this is unsuccessful, it could require a landlord to carry out improvements to the property; for example, by installing central heating and insulation to deal with cold, fixing a rail to steep stairs to deal with the risk of falls, or mending a leaking roof.

The Council can also prohibit the use of the whole or part of a dwelling or restrict the number of permitted occupants. Where hazards are less serious, it may serve a hazard awareness notice to draw attention to a problem. Where an occupier is at immediate risk, the council can take emergency remedial action.

A property owner who feels that an assessment is wrong can discuss matters with the inspector and ultimately will be able to challenge an enforcement decision through the Residential Property Tribunal.

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Hazard outcomes

Category 1 and 2 hazards cannot be defined as such. Each property has a risk assessment carried out on the potential hazard(s) and the outcome of the assessment depends on the severity of the hazard(s) and the age of the property.

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