Review of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System
The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (“MHCLG”) has announced a two-year review of the current Housing Health and Safety Rating System (“HHSRS”) to update and simplify the process. Housing and property professionals including surveyors, landlords and management agents are asked to complete an online questionnaire as part of the review. The MHCLG has also published new guidance about “shared and overcrowded housing – reducing the risk of infection”.
What is the HHSRS?
The HHSRS is an evaluation tool to help local authorities identify and protect against potential risks and hazards to health and safety from any deficiencies identified in dwellings. It was introduced under the Housing Act 2004 and applies to private rented properties, council and housing association homes and owner-occupied housing in England and Wales.
An Environmental Health Officer (“EHO”) carries out a visual inspection of the property and will then produce a specialist report. The EHO will be considering the chance of harm, the seriousness of the potential harm and any extra risk to children or older people. Hazards are listed and ranked by categories depending on their level of risk: ‘category 1’ or ‘category 2’ and carry different consequences:
— Category 1 Hazards – are the most serious and the council must take action.
— Category 2 Hazards – a less serious or less urgent hazard, where action is suggested but is not compulsory.
Purpose of the review
The HHSRS has been in place for 15 years but there have been significant changes since then, including building technology and knowledge about risk and hazards in buildings. The review will consider ways to simplify the review process and recommend minimum standards as well as incorporating digital assessment tools.
How to take part in the survey
Housing and property professionals, as well as individual tenants, are encouraged to take part in the online questionnaire via this website.
Guidance on shared and overcrowded housing
The MHCLG has also recently published guidance about “shared and overcrowded housing – reducing the risk of infection”. The guidance provides the additional steps you should consider to reduce the risk of catching or passing on Covid-19, particularly for those in accommodation with shared facilities.
Our Head of Regulatory, Kathryn Gilbertson, is renowned for her expertise in advising on HHSRS issues and COVID-19 Secure Measures. She can help provide a clear route map of the law on your obligations as well as defending action by local authorities such as improvement notices and/or prohibition notices. We will keep you up-to-date on the progress of the review.
This update is for general purposes and guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should seek legal advice before relying on its content. This update relates to the prevailing circumstances at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments. If you have general queries about our updates, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org