Housing Health And Safety Rating System (HHSRS): An Overview
On the 6th April 2006, Part 1 of the new Housing Act 2004 replaced the housing fitness regime of the Housing Act 1985.
The housing fitness standard was based on criteria first introduced 80 years ago and there was support for modernisation. This fitness test is now replaced with an evidence-based risk assessment procedure known as the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).
HHSRS is a new approach which will enable local authorities to address more effectively the hazards to health and safety present in the home and they will now base enforcement decisions in respect of all residential premises on assessments under this new system. The principle behind the rating system is that a dwelling, including the structure and associated outbuildings and garden, yard, and/or other amenity space, should provide a safe and healthy environment for the occupants and any visitors.
HHSRS: the system of assessment
The purpose of the HHSRS assessment is not to set a standard, but to generate objective information in order to determine and inform enforcement decisions. In order to do this, the HHSRS assesses twenty nine categories of housing hazard, including factors which were not covered or covered inadequately by the housing fitness standard. It provides a rating for each hazard. A hazard rating is expressed though a numerical score which falls within a band. There are 10 bands. Scores in Bands A to C are called Category 1 hazards. Scores in Bands D to J are called Category 2 hazards.
The HHSRS does not provide a single rating for the dwelling as a whole or, in the case of multiply occupied dwellings, for the building as a whole. The HHSRS assessment is based on the risk to the potential occupant who is most vulnerable to that hazard. For example, stairs constitute a greater risk to the elderly, so for assessing hazards relating to stairs they are considered the most vulnerable. The very young as well as the elderly are susceptible to low temperatures. A dwelling that is safe for those most vulnerable to a hazard is safe for all.
Action by authorities will be based on a three-stage consideration:
The 29 hazards that can be assessed are those associated with or arising from:
(A) Physiological Requirements
(B) Protection Against Infection
(C) Protection Against Accidents
(D) Psychological Requirements
The choice of the appropriate course of enforcement action is for the authority to decide, having first had regard to the statutory enforcement guidance and their own enforcement policy. For more information on enforcement, please view Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy [209kb].
Local Authorities can:
The HHSRS hazard rating is based on the most vulnerable potential occupant. But authorities will be able to take account of the vulnerability of the actual occupant in deciding the best course of action.
Local Authorities also have powers to act in default, to prosecute for failure to comply and they can charge for and recover costs for any enforcement action.
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