Property Standard Inspection (HHSRS)
The Housing Act 2004 has introduced a Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) that replaces the Standard of Fitness under Housing Act 1985. The HHSRS is a risk assessment method which has changed the way Environmental Health Officers inspect and assess housing conditions.
The principle of HHSRS is that any residential premises (including the structure, means of access, and any associated outbuilding, garden or yard) should provide a safe and healthy environment for any potential occupier or visitor. HHSRS is a risk assessment process and is comprehensive in its coverage of key health and safety risks in dwellings. In very broad terms, the rating system works by assessing the risk associated with certain home hazards and if the likelihood of harm occurring is significant, the council may take action to ensure that the risk is removed or reduced.
There are twenty nine separate hazards that have to be taken into account during an inspection of the house or flat.
Each hazard has to be assessed on the likelihood of causing harm and then further assessed on the outcome of that harm based on the four categories ranging from minor injury up to hospitalisation and death.
Calculation is then made using the government’s multipliers to arrive at a score. If the hazard score is above 1000, a Category 1 hazard exists and the council is obliged to take action to ensure elimination of that hazard. In many instances eliminating that hazard will be a simple matter. However, there will be occasions where the hazard is such that it will require quite substantial amounts of money spent to make the house safe to live in.
Category 2 hazards exist when the score is below 1000. For a score below 1000 there is no obligation for the council to take action but in most cases the council will bring it to the attention of the owner and request the hazard is eliminated.
There are several enforcement options available for the council to use:
- Improvement notice
- Hazard Awareness notice
- Prohibition order
- Emergency Prohibition Order.
The action taken by council will largely depend on the nature of and seriousness of the hazard.
Under the Housing Act 2004, local authorities are authorised to make a charge for the service of the above notices. We charge a fee of £484 for each notice served. This charge includes the cost to the council of the inspection, desk top assessment, drawing up of planes, consultation with the LFCDA, preparation and service of the notice and general administration.
The Environmental Health and Trading Standards – Health and Housing responds to complaints from tenants, by sending a standard letter to landlords and agents advising them of the complaint and of the notice charge, should enforcement action be required.
We would prefer to allow owners and landlords to improve their houses with little or no involvement from us. Officers will be on hand to give advice and inform. This will free up the Enforcement Officer’s time to take formal action against those who deliberately wish to operate outside the law.