Housing standards

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

What is the HHSRS?

The HHSRS is a scoring system that is used by all local authorities to risk assess the effect of certain hazards on the health, safety and wellbeing of the occupants. The system allows local authorities to take action to remedy these hazards in order to ensure housing is safe to live in.

Who does the HHSRS affect?

The local authority has enforcement powers to ensure owners and landlords, including social landlords comply with the HHSRS.

What are the hazards?

There are a total of 29 hazards, which include:

  • Damp and mould, excess cold/heat
  • Pollutants i.e. asbestos, biocides, carbon monoxide, lead, radiation, etc.
  • Overcrowding, lack of space, entry by intruders, lighting and noise
  • Poor hygiene i.e. pests, food safety, drainage, water supply, etc.
  • Accidents i.e. falls, electric shocks, burns, fires, etc.
  • Collisions, entrapment, explosions, etc.

How is a hazard assessed?

A local authority officer will complete a full inspection of a property and base their assessment on the likelihood of the occupants suffering harm, as a direct result of the condition of the property. The hazards are then appropriately scored by the officer, using the rating system. This will determine whether there are any serious hazards (Category 1) or less serious hazards (Category 2) present.

How is it enforced?

If the local authority discovers there is a Category 1 hazard present, it has a duty to take appropriate enforcement action. In the first instance, the council will endeavour to deal with all matters informally. However, if unsuccessful the council can take formal action by serving a statutory notice requiring works to be carried out. The council also has the power where necessary to prohibit the use of the whole or part of a dwelling, restrict the number of permitted occupants or take emergency action. Alternatively where hazards are of low risk it may be more appropriate for a hazard awareness notice to be served to ensure landlords draw tenants attention to the problem.

If a category 2 hazard is found within a property, the local authority has the discretion to take action if necessary

The Letting Agents' Redress Schemes

The Redress Schemes for Lettings Agency Work and Property Management Work (Requirement to Belong to a Scheme etc) (England) Order 2014

It is now a legal requirement for all lettings agents and property managers in England to belong to an approved redress scheme.

There are three Ombudsman schemes which the government have approved, and these will deal with complaints about the working practices of letting and managing agents. Chichester District Council are the enforcing authority within the boundaries of the district and are responsible for ensuring all applicable agents have complied with the requirements, and have joined an approved scheme.

The three approved schemes are The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services Property and The Property Redress Scheme. They will offer independent investigation of complaints about hidden fees or poor service.  Where a complaint is upheld, tenants and lease holders could receive compensation.

The contact details of these Schemes are as follows:

Letting agents redress scheme contact details

Scheme

Web address

Contact

The Property Ombudsman Scheme

www.tpos.co.uk

01722 333306

The Ombudsman Services

www.ombudsman-services.org

0330 440 1634

The Property Redress Scheme

www.theprs.co.uk

02082 757131

This requirement will mean that tenants and landlords with agents in the private rented sector and leaseholders and freeholders dealing with property managers in the residential sector will be able to complain to an independent person about the service they have received. The aim of the scheme is to eliminate poor practices by letting agents and improve the industry standard to comply with the published Code of Practice.

If you are a Letting Agent or Property Manager and do not join a government authorised consumer redress scheme you can be subject to a £5,000 fine from the local authority, if you continue to breach your legal requirement to join such a scheme.

If you are a landlord or tenant and want to know if your agent is a member of an approved scheme please visit the websites listed above.

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 have been introduced to ensure premises let for residential purposes are safe for people to live in.

Statistically people are four times more likely to die in a fire in the home if there is no working smoke alarm. Over the next 10 years it is estimated that the new laws will result in 231 fewer deaths and 5,860 less injuries.

The law, which came into force on 1 October 2015, requires private sector landlords to ensure the following:

  • at least one smoke alarm to be installed on every floor of their properties
  • a carbon monoxide alarm to be fitted in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire, wood burning stove).

Landlords should however be aware that all gas appliances can emit carbon monoxide so we would encourage landlords to ensure working carbon monoxide alarms are installed in any room where there is one installed.

  • Landlords must also make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.

During the course of the tenancy the testing and ensuring that alarms are working is the responsibility of the tenant. If any faults are identified, or alarms are not working for any reason the tenant must liaise with their landlord who will ensure issues are addressed.

The requirements of the regulations are enforced by Local Authorities who can impose a fine of up to £5,000 where a landlord fails to comply with a remedial notice.

More information can be found at  Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms , or by contacting the Environmental Housing Team on 01243 534608.