Last edited 24 Nov 2020

Housing health and safety rating system

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) was introduced in England and Wales by the Housing Act 2004. It replaced the pass or fail Housing Fitness Standard in April 2006 because of concerns that it did not properly distinguish between defects and health and safety hazards.

The HHSRS is a risk-based assessment system used by environmental health officers (EHOs) to assess the likelihood and severity of 29 categories of potential health and safety hazards in residential housing (including fire). It can be used in private or social rented housing as well as owner-occupied housing, and is intended to help local authorities identify and protect against potential risks to health and safety resulting from deficiencies in dwellings.

Local authorities have a statutory duty to keep housing conditions in their area under review, and to inspect properties if they consider it appropriate to do so.

An HHSRS score is calculated following an inspection (as prescribed by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (England) Regulations 2005), and the government has issued statutory Enforcement Guidance explaining the actions local authorities can take and the factors they should consider when deciding which action is the most appropriate.

If the EHO finds a serious hazard (one scoring A – C, called a Category 1 hazard in the Act) the local authority is under a duty to take action. If an EHO finds a less serious hazard (one scoring D – J, called a Category 2 hazard in the Act) the local authority only need take action if they think it is necessary. Enforcement is intended to make the property safer for occupants and potential future occupants and may include the local authority carrying out any necessary remedial work themselves and reclaiming the costs if necessary.

There has been some criticism that since the introduction of the HHSRS there have been no minimum property standards for rented housing in England, and have been failed attempts to introduce new legislation to require that residential rented accommodation is maintained in a state fit for human habitation.

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