The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (England) Regulations 2005

Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004 (the Act) introduces the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), which came into force on 6th April 2006. It is an evidence-based system for assessing housing conditions. The HHSRS provides an analysis of how hazardous a property is through assessment of 29 potential hazards found in housing. Each hazard is given a score which will fall into one of 10 bands from band A to band J. Scores that fall into band A indicate a serious hazard whereas scores in band J indicate that the hazard is much less severe. Where there is no hazard, a score will not be recorded.

Scores in bands A to C are classed as category 1 hazards and the local authority is obliged to take action. Scores in bands D to J are category 2 hazards and the local authority can use discretion whether to take action. The score is based on the risk to the potential occupier or visitor who is most vulnerable to that particular hazard. For example, the elderly are most vulnerable to hazards relating to stairs. A home that is safe for those most vulnerable to that particular hazard is safe for all.

Where such hazards do exist the local authority is able to take enforcement action, such as serving a hazard awareness notice; serving an improvement notice which requires work to be undertaken to remove or reduce the hazard; making a prohibition order which may restrict the use of all or part of the dwelling; or take action themselves where they consider the hazard needs to be dealt with as a matter of emergency. Whether the local authority must or may take enforcement action will depend on the seriousness of the hazard.

Schedule 1: Profiles of The 29 Hazards

1. Damp and mould growth
2. Excess cold
3. Excess heat
4. Asbestos and MMF
5. Biocides
6. Carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products
7. Lead
8. Radiation
9. Uncombusted fuel gas
10. Volatile organic compounds
11. Crowding and space
12. Entry by intruders
13. Lighting
14. Noise
15. Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse
16. Food safety
17. Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage
18. Water supply
19. Falls associated with baths etc
20. Falling on level surfaces etc
21. Falling on stairs etc
22. Falling between levels
23. Electrical hazards
24. Fire
25. Flames, hot surfaces etc
26. Collision and entrapment
27. Explosions
28. Position and operability of amenities etc
29. Structural collapse and falling elements

Schedule 2: Classes of Harm

The LHA shall assess the likelihood during the period of 12 months beginning with the date of the assessment of a relevant occupier suffering any harm as a result of a hazard identified in Schedule 1. The LHA shall assess which of the four classes of harm (set out in this Schedule) a relevant occupier is most likely to suffer during the period mentioned and assess the possibility of each of the other classes of harm occurring as a result of that hazard. This information combined will help determine the level of seriousness of the hazard and what enforcement action is required if any.
Class I
Class II
Class III
Class IV

Enforcement Action

The Housing Act 2004 imposes a general duty on LHAs to take appropriate enforcement action where there is a category 1 hazard and lists the enforcement powers available to LHAs where a category 2 hazard exists.

The LHA is under a duty to take the best course of action available to it in relation to the hazard. LHAs cannot simultaneously take more than one of the actions set out, for example make a prohibition order and serve an improvement notice dealing with the same hazard. This is to ensure that LHAs have properly considered the appropriate action and owners are not asked to comply unnecessarily with more than one requirement.
Category 1 Hazard Enforcement Actions
Category 2 Hazard Enforcement Actions
Improvement Notice
Prohibition Order
Hazard Awareness Notice
Demolition Order
Clearance Area
Emergency Remedial Action
Emergency Prohibition Order
Slum Clearance Declaration

Penalties and Fine

Landlords who fail to comply with an Improvement Notice or Prohibition Order to ensure properties are safe and habitable are committing an offence. If convicted they face unlimited maximum fines in the magistrate’s courts. The local authority is entitled to recover the costs of enforcement, including the cost of an improvement notice. Previously there was a £5000 cap, which as of 12 March 2015 has been removed.