A new method of assessing housing conditions:

The Housing Act 2004 introduced a new way for local authorities to assess housing conditions in England and Wales. This new system replaced the old housing fitness standard and came into force on 6th April 2006.

The new risk assessment approach called the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) enables Council officers to identify hazards to health and safety in dwellings and to recommend works to remove or minimise those hazards.

The HHSRS is used to assess conditions in all private properties including those that are owner occupied, rented to single people and families, and houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

Properties are assessed against 29 potential hazards, including issues such as 'excess cold', 'falls on stairs', 'damp and mould growth' and 'noise'. Some of these hazards could not be dealt with by the Council under the previous legislation.

When a hazard is identified in a property, two tests must be applied:

  • What is the likelihood of a dangerous occurrence as a result of this hazard?
  • If there is a dangerous occurrence, what would be the likely outcome?

The likelihood and the severity of the outcome combine to generate a hazard score. Hazard scores are divided into 10 bands, with Band A being the most serious and Band J the least serious. Hazards which fall into bands A to C are called Category 1 hazards and those in bands D to J are Category 2 hazards

Councils have a duty to take some enforcement action where Category 1 hazards exist. They also have a discretionary power to take enforcement action where there are Category 2 hazards.

Enforcement action involves the Council serving legal notices on the owner and/or manager of the property, and requiring them to carry out certain works in a specific timescale. Action includes to:

  • Serve an Improvement Notice - requires works to remove the hazard
  • Make a Prohibition Order - prohibits use of residential dwellings or part of a residential dwelling
  • Serve a Hazard Awareness Notice - advises of hazard and recommends remedial action
  • Take Emergency Remedial Action - where there is imminent danger, the Council can carry out emergency works
  • Make an Emergency Prohibition Order - where there is imminent danger, Council can prohibit use of property immediately

It is an offence not to comply with these legal notices.

If you require more information/guidance as to whether your property needs improvement to comply with HHSRS requirements, please complete our downloadable questionnaire and return it to our Technical Officers who will be able to give you the correct advice.