A safe and healthy place to call home — it’s what we all want for ourselves and our families. The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) can help by allowing local authorities to identify and tackle potential hazards in housing, including private rented accommodation.
Landlords’ responsibilities to comply with health and safety standards in their properties are clearly set out in law, and renters deserve the security of knowing appliances like boilers are safe to use. If you’re a tenant having trouble ensuring your landlord is maintaining safety standards, the HHSRS could be a very useful resource.
No one should be in a position to wonder ‘is my boiler safe’, so we’ve put together a guide on everything you need to know about how the HHSRS can help.
What is the Housing Health and Safety Rating System?
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is a way of assessing potential hazards in our homes. It gives local authorities like councils the power to identify, measure and protect against health and safety issues that could be caused by any faults or problems.
The properties inspected under the HHSRS are usually private rented homes. However, the system also covers every single property where someone is living, including council and housing association homes.
How Does the HHSRS Classify a Home as Unsafe?
The system protects people from hazards that could affect their physical and mental health, as well as any problems making their home unsafe. These issues can range from overcrowding and damp or mould growth, all the way to unstable surfaces that could lead to falls.
Risk assessments carried out under the HHSRS will ask a series of questions about the property. Assessors will look into how likely it is that hazards could lead to a harmful incident, as well as exactly what the outcomes of such an incident could be.
An example of the approach they take might be: is a boiler service overdue and what could happen if it is? Problems caused by contaminated water storage tanks, a broken boiler in a rented house or exposure to asbestos are more examples of hazards that can be investigated by the HHSRS.
Every assessment carried out will use the HHSRS Operating Guidance to identify issues in the residence and put them into one of two categories; category 1 is for serious hazards and category 2 is for less serious hazards.
How Can I Organise a HHSRS Inspection?
If you’ve been in touch with your landlord and asked for improvement and repairs to be made and nothing’s been done, the next step is to contact your local authority. Explain what your problem is and how it could be a risk to your health and safety. Don’t forget, you won’t have to pay for an assessment to be carried out.
Shelter has lots of useful information on how to get in touch with your local Environmental Health department to ask for an inspection. The department will look into your concerns and decide if they think an inspection is the appropriate course of action.
How Can It Helps Tenants Whose Properties Need Repairs?
If an inspection uncovers any category 1 hazards, your local authority must take action. If any category 2 hazards are found, it’s up to the authority to decide whether anything needs to be done.
Where action must be taken, the authority will reach out to the homeowner to discuss what they need to do. If any problems arise or the owner declines to cooperate, they can take steps that require them to make any needed improvements to the home. This could be installing central heating to deal with the cold, or mending a roof that has begun to leak.
Where hazards are less likely to cause us a lot of harm, the authorities may decide to send the landlord a ‘hazard awareness notice’ which alerts them to the problem. However, if they believe a tenant or occupier is at immediate risk, they can take emergency action to fix any problems.
How Is the HHSRS Enforced?
The landlord or owner may decide not to take action and make any improvements set out by the local authority. If this happens, the authority may go ahead and make the changes themselves, then charge the landlord for the cost of the improvements.
If they do refuse to make the changes that the council asked them to make, there can be serious consequences. They could be fined or even prosecuted, and may no longer be permitted to let or manage properties.
Do you have additional questions about the Housing Health and Safety Rating System? Get in touch with us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook and we will point you in the right direction for more help and information on this important topic.