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02 Jun 2023 < Back

The housing, health and safety rating system - but why is it important?

The government has announced that it has finished its review of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). For those who may be unaware, the system is a tool used to assess risk in homes. The purpose of this review, was to consider:

  • Making it easier for local councils to assess risks and enforce standards
  • Increasing accessibility to landlords and tenants
  • Providing a simpler assessment

Although no date has been given as yet for when we can expect to see the review, it is certainly something that we as an industry should be fully aware of.

So why is the HHSRS important to us?

Many of us will be familiar with the HHSRS, which was introduced by the Housing Act 2004. It covers a range of 29 potential hazards (including damp and mould) and assesses how dangerous they are.

For a property to meet legal standards, under the Decent Homes Standard, it must be free from Category 1 hazards - these are hazards which could result in serious harm, such as death, permanent loss of limb or serious fracture. If a local council finds a Category 1 hazard they have a legal duty to take action under the Housing Act 2004. This includes requiring landlords to fix issues, prohibiting the use of part or all of a building, or to carry out emergency works themselves.

A balanced and measured approach is needed

I have previously written about the dangers of balance swinging too far, and favour or bias given towards either the tenant, or landlord. There is certainly a need for a balanced and measured approach here. Clear guidance on what is an acceptable level of dampness would certainly be advantageous and help us as an industry, as we look to support those with damp problems provide clients on guidance regarding their legal requirements.

Nevertheless, is there a danger with this current level of media attention focused on dampness, that we might lose sight of a practical approach? There can be no denying that public perception of what is acceptable has changed and the review of the HSRS is another indicator that change is expected at the highest level! will this finally see them make the link between this lack of enforcement with Approved Document F and a legacy of damp problems? I suppose time will tell...



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