The Housing Act 2004 (and guidance issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government) states that all homes must be healthy and safe. This is assessed by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). It applies to all housing whether rented or owner occupied, family homes or houses in multiple occupation.
The system has been developed to assess all the 29 hazards that may be present in the home. These hazards can adversely affect the health and safety of occupiers and any visitors.
When major (category 1) hazards are identified we have a duty to decide on the most satisfactory course of action. In most cases this will be that the owner removes or reduces the risk. Usually this will be by improvement but in some cases it may be restricting the occupancy of all or part of the house or even demolition.
For lesser (category 2) hazards the we may choose to take action.
How does it work?
If you are a landlord or property related professional find out more about the system guidance.
When applying the rating system all problems (deficiencies) are identified and their health and safety effects considered. These can include any 'negative outcome' (ranging from a minor illness to death) that is likely to occur in the next year. We will produce a score for the hazard; this reflects both the likelihood and seriousness of the outcome. Each hazard is assessed independently; there is no overall score for the property. The higher the score the more serious the threat to health, safety and wellbeing of occupiers (or visitors), and the more likely that action will need to be taken. A score of 1000 or more is a category 1 hazard.
It targets those housing deficiencies that have a real impact on people’s health.
Health and safety issues are now considered (for example, trips and falls), there are 29 hazards to be assessed including:
- Heating should be controllable by the occupants and capable of heating the whole of the dwelling adequately and efficiently
- Structural thermal insulation should be provided
- In practice, a standard equivalent to that of gas central heating and 50mm of loft insulation will be a minimum, and in many cases a higher standard may be needed.
- 40,000 people die from cold every year, and the inability to efficiently heat their homes is a major contribution to this death toll.
Damp and mould
- The structure and finishes of a dwelling should be maintained free from rising and penetrating dampness or persistent condensation. The presence of mould is serious because of its significant health effects.
- There should be sufficient and appropriate means of ventilation to deal with moisture generated by normal domestic activities together with adequate heating and insulation.
- Electrical installations must be safe. Live parts must be insulated, adequate earthing provided etc.
- There should be adequate sockets to prevent overloading.
- A Residual Current Device (RCD) protection is usually required.
- Heating should be adequate and safely positioned to minimise the use of portable heaters. Cookers should be properly sited. The electrical wiring should be safe.
- There should be adequate warning of a fire (fire alarm) and suitable means of escape especially from upper storeys.
In Houses in Multiple Occupation and buildings occupied as flats there may need to be a higher standard of fire alarm and a `protected route’ to provide fire separation and an escape route for each occupancy.
- Internal and external stairs must be safe. Risers and treads must be even and of an appropriate size. There must be adequate guarding, handrails and lighting. Stair coverings must be in good condition, (not loose, worn or ripped). Width of staircase and winders will also be considered.
- Tripping hazards must be minimised. Examples include threshold steps, uneven or slippery floors and external surfaces.
- Window sill heights and window types must reduce the risk of falls.
- There must be adequate guarding to internal and external drops, for example flat roofs, light-wells and landings.
- Bathrooms must have adequate space, lighting, and fitting must be secure and positioned to reduce the likelihood of an accident and the extent of any injury.
- Other factors affecting the severity of injuries incurred must be considered, including space and surfaces at the foot of the stairs.