Private Landlords - Housing Standards
The Housing Act 2004 came into effect on the 6 April 2006 and introduced with it a new way of assessing dwellings called the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), which replaces the old ‘fitness standard’ under the Housing Act 1985.
The HHSRS aims to provide a method which enables risks from hazards to health and safety in dwellings to be removed or minimised.
The principle behind the system is that a dwelling, any associated outbuildings and outdoor amenity space should provide a safe and healthy environment for the occupants and any visitors to the dwelling.
The dwelling should be free from hazards or when they are unavoidable, they should be made as safe as is reasonably practicable. The HHSRS applies to both single dwellings and Houses in Multiple Occupation.
The HHSRS assesses 29 categories of housing hazard including those which were not covered or were inadequately covered by the old housing ‘fitness standard’.
The property is inspected and any defects and deficiencies which may pose a hazard are noted. A score for each hazard is then calculated.
The score depends on the severity of the hazard and its potential to cause injury to a person who is most vulnerable to that hazard. For example, stairs constitute a greater risk to the elderly, so when assessing the hazard relating to stairs, the elderly are considered to be the vulnerable group.
Likewise the elderly and very young are at greater risk from cold so they are the vulnerable group for the hazard excess cold. The greater the likelihood of harm occurring or the more severe the outcome, then the higher the score for the hazard will be.
The scores are divided into 10 hazard bands, A to J, Band A is the most serious and Band J the least serious.
A hazard which falls into Bands A to C is termed a ‘Category 1’ hazard, we have a statutory duty to take enforcement action to deal with these hazards, while a hazard in bands D to F is a ‘Category 2’ hazard which we have the power to take enforcement action to deal with if it is deemed appropriate.
The decision on which type of action can be taken is based on several factors, the severity of the hazard score, whether we have a duty or just a power to act and a judgement about the best means of dealing with the hazard.
Any action will be taken in line with our Enforcement Policy. We are also able to charge and recover costs associated with taking enforcement action.
Appeals against Notices and Orders is now made by applying to the Residential Property Tribunal.
Further information is available from the DASH Services website.