- 1 Relevance to supported housing providers
- 2 HHSRS Overview
- 3 HHSRS score calculation
- 4 Severity of hazards
- 5 Guidance for housing providers
- 6 Potential health and safety hazards in dwellings
- 7 Housing provider’s assessment process
- 8 Prospective changes to the HHSRS
- 9 Criticisms of the proposed changes
- 10 Sources
Relevance to supported housing providers
1. One of the Government’s expectations for supported housing in England is that the accommodation should be free from serious hazards as assessed by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) (Supported Housing: National Statement of Expectations (NSE) (England).
2. The HHSRS is a risk-based assessment tool used by council environmental health officers (EHOs) to check for hazards in homes that might affect the health of residents and visitors. The council takes action if serious issues are found.
3. The HHSRS applies to all occupancy types including vacant dwellings. Typically, private rented properties are inspected. – Council or housing association tenants may need to complain directly about repairs and conditions.
4. The HHSRS also forms part of the Decent Homes Standard for social housing
5. The HHSRS was introduced under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004 and the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (England) Regulations 2005 (SI 2005 No 3208).
6. Guidelines are provided for officers on how to conduct inspections and assess hazards. This guidance is accessible online.
HHSRS score calculation
7. An HHSRS score is determined after an inspection of a dwelling. This score reflects the potential hazards and their seriousness in the dwelling.
Severity of hazards
8. Hazards are rated from A-J based on severity.
9. Category 1 hazards fall in the higher scoring bands A-C, these are deemed serious. Councils are mandated to act upon identifying such hazards.
10. Category 2 hazards fall in scoring bands D-J and are considered less serious, but councils can still take action if deemed necessary.
Guidance for housing providers
11. The Government has produced guidance that aims to help housing providers understand what officers look for in inspections and how dwellings are assessed, so they can identify and remedy any issues before an inspection.1Housing Health and Safety Rating System Guidance for Landlords and Property
12. Responsible housing providers should want to identify factors that could increase risks and harms in order to address them. Below we have outlined:
- the 29 potential hazards providers should be checking for,2Housing Health and Safety Rating System (England) Regulations 2005 No 3208, sch 1 and
- a suggested assessment process to be adopted by the provider.
13. Detailed Government guidance for housing providers is to be found in Housing Health and Safety Rating System Guidance for Landlords and Property Related Professionals, May 2006.
Potential health and safety hazards in dwellings
29 potential hazards – housing provider checklist
|1 – Damp and mould growth||Ensure no presence of house dust mites, damp, mould, or fungal growths.|
|2 – Excess cold||Ensure temperatures are adequately warm and above any hazardous levels.|
|3 – Excess heat||Ensure temperatures are not excessively high or above recommended levels.|
|4 – Asbestos and MMF||Check for no exposure risk to asbestos fibres or manufactured mineral fibres.|
|5 – Biocides||Ensure no hazardous chemical exposure from timber treatments or mould growth treatments.|
|6 – Carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products||Ensure no exposure to carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, or smoke.|
|7 – Lead||Ensure no risks of lead ingestion from any sources in the dwelling.|
|8 – Radiation||Ensure no radiation exposure risks.|
|9 – Uncombusted fuel gas||Confirm no uncombusted fuel gas exposure risks.|
|10 – Volatile organic compounds||Ensure no exposure to harmful volatile organic compounds.|
|11 – Crowding and space||Confirm adequate space for living and sleeping without overcrowding.|
|12 – Entry by intruders||Ensure the dwelling or HMO is secure against unauthorised entry.|
|13 – Lighting||Confirm that the lighting is adequate and functional throughout the property.|
|14 – Noise||Ensure that noise levels are within acceptable limits.|
|15 – Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse||Confirm cleanliness, no pest exposure, and adequate waste storage and disposal methods.|
|16 – Food safety||Check the provision of facilities for food storage, preparation, and cooking.|
|17 – Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage||Confirm good personal hygiene facilities and adequate sanitation and drainage systems.|
|18 – Water supply||Ensure an uncontaminated water supply for all domestic purposes.|
|19 – Falls associated with baths etc||Ensure safety and no fall risks associated with washing facilities.|
|20 – Falling on level surfaces etc||Confirm no fall risks on or between surfaces with a height difference <300 millimetres.|
|21 – Falling on stairs etc||Ensure safety and no fall risks on stairs, steps or ramps with a height difference ≥300mm.|
|22 – Falling between levels||Confirm no fall risks between levels with a height difference of ≥300 millimetres.|
|23 – Electrical hazards||Ensure electrical systems and appliances are safe and pose no exposure risks.|
|24 – Fire||Check for fire safety measures, including alarms, and ensure no uncontrolled fire risks.|
|25 – Flames, hot surfaces etc||Ensure safety against risks of contact with fire, hot objects, liquids, or vapours.|
|26 – Collision and entrapment||Check safety against risks of collision or entrapment in architectural features.|
|27 – Explosions||Ensure measures are in place to prevent any explosions in the dwelling or HMO.|
|28 – Position and operability of amenities etc||Confirm that amenities, fittings, and equipment are well-positioned and operational.|
|29 – Structural collapse and falling elements||Ensure the structural integrity of the dwelling or HMO and no risks of collapse.|
Housing provider’s assessment process
14. A systematic procedure a supported accommodation provider can follow to identify and minimize hazards in the property generally includes the following steps.
Step 1- Initial inspection
15. This consists of a:
- a room-by-room inspection checking elements, fixtures, fittings,
- checking common parts like stairs, shared rooms, amenities,
- checking outside the building – external elements, yards, gardens, paths, and
- recording any deficiencies, disrepair, potential hazards
Step 2- Hazard identification
16. Review deficiencies and determine if they could contribute to the 29 housing hazards. Consider if they:
- increase the likelihood of harmful occurrence,
- increase the severity of potential harm.
Step 3- Remedial action
17. Create a plan and timeline for repairs to fix deficiencies and reduce risks.
- Prioritise urgent vs. non-urgent repairs,
- Record the work programme,
- Record when work is completed.
Step 4- Follow up
18. Follow up by:
- verifying that hazards have been minimized after work,
- re-inspecting property on a regular basis,
- frequency depends on:
- age and type of property,
- change in occupants.
- some items need more frequent inspections (gas, etc.).
Step 5- Record keeping
19. Document the inspection findings, identified hazards, planned repairs, and completed work.
Step 6- Review process
20. Return to the initial inspection step regularly to re-evaluate the property and update records.
21. The goal is to systematically minimize hazards to tenants through proactive inspections, hazard evaluation, repairs, and follow-up.
Prospective changes to the HHSRS
22. These are set out in a DLUH&C Policy paper: Summary report: outcomes and next steps for the review of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), 7 September 2023.
23. As part of its rented sector reforms, the government is reviewing the Decent Homes Standard for both social and private rented sectors. A revised HHSRS will support reforms to improve housing quality in both sectors.
24. A scoping review in 2018 found support for simplifying the HHSRS assessment process. The 2-year review aimed to update, empower stakeholders, ensure alignment with other standards, and support enforcement.
25. These included:
- reducing the number of hazards from 29 to 21,
- simpler banding of hazards,
- indicative baselines for initial assessments,
- updated guidance documents,
- new case studies,
- review of training and competencies,
- amalgamating the Fire and Explosion hazards,
- digital assessment analysis.
26. New regulations are required to bring the changes into force. These are intended to be introduced after the conclusion of the Decent Homes Standard review.
Criticisms of the proposed changes
27. David Ormandy has provided detailed criticisms of the proposed changes. He considers that the proposed revisions to the HHSRS will severely reduce its effectiveness, helping landlords but making residents’ lives worse.3David Ormandy, ‘Dumbing down and Weakening the HHSRS’ , LAG, accessed 15 September 2023
|Legislation||Housing Health and Safety Rating System (England) Regulations 2005 No 3208|
|Enabling Act||Housing Act 2004, Part 1|
|Recent Main Amending Legislation||N/A|
|Latest Government Guidance||28. DLUHC Collection: Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) Guidance|
|Prospective Changes||DLUH&C Policy paper: Summary report: outcomes and next steps for the review of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), 7 September 2023|
Notes [ + ]
|1.||↑||Housing Health and Safety Rating System Guidance for Landlords and Property|
|2.||↑||Housing Health and Safety Rating System (England) Regulations 2005 No 3208, sch 1|
|3.||↑||David Ormandy, ‘Dumbing down and Weakening the HHSRS’ , LAG, accessed 15 September 2023|