DASH Services

"Where we live defines who we are.
Poor housing is linked to poor health and reduces people’s life chances."

Linda Cobb Project Manager

Housing Health and Safety Rating System – HHSRS

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is a risk assessment tool used to assess potential risks to the health and safety of occupants and their visitors in residential properties focusing on the hazards that are present in housing. Tackling these hazards will make housing healthier and safer to live in. It came into effect in April 2006.

Who does it affect?

All owners and landlords, including social landlords.

Unfortunately, the private sector contains some of the worst housing conditions and owners and landlords should be aware that any future inspections of their property will be made using HHSRS.

Private landlords and managing agents are advised to assess their property to determine whether there are serious hazards that may cause a health or safety risk to tenants. They should then carry out improvements to reduce the risks.

Public sector landlords also need to incorporate HHSRS into their stock condition surveys. To be decent, homes should be free of category 1 hazards.

Tenants should be aware of the new approach taken by local authorities to deal with bad housing conditions. They still have discretion over the action they take but they are more likely to prioritise cases where there is some evidence of serious hazards.

Local authorities have a duty to keep the housing conditions in their area
under review. Either as a result of that review, or for some other reason, such as a complaint from a tenant they can inspect a property if they have reason to think that a health or safety hazard exists there.

How does HHSRS work?

HHSRS assesses 29 different hazards that are found in the home, from damp and mould to structural collapse.  Each hazard is given a score which will fall into one of 10 bands from A to 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 a hazard is no worse than would be expected in the average property, a score will not be recorded.

Scores in bands A to C are classed as Category1 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. The system provides a separate score for each individual hazard and does not provide a single rating for the property or building as a whole.



What action can be taken?

The Housing Act 2004 gives local councils extensive powers to intervene where they consider housing conditions to be unacceptable on the basis of the impact of health and safety hazards on the most vulnerable potential occupier or visitor.

The most likely actions available in relation to both Category 1 and Category 2
hazards include: -
1. Serving an Improvement Notice
2. Making a Prohibition Order
3. Serving a Hazard Awareness Notice

Local Authority Involvement

As well as providing the legal basis for HHSRS, the 2004 Act contains a package of enforcement measures for local councils to use. These powers can be used to deal with poor housing in the private sector, or any housing owned by a public sector landlord.

Councils have a duty to deal with hazards which are assessed as ‘Category 1’ under HHSRS, and discretionary powers to deal with ‘Category 2’ hazards.

How will the system be used in enforcement?

The first step should be to approach the landlord informally. However, the amount of leeway allowed to a landlord informally will be at the councils’ discretion.

If the landlord does not respond, the council is most likely to move into formal action – by issuing an improvement notice on the owner (or agent) requiring that the hazard(s) is removed or minimized within a set time – generally 28 days.

In more serious cases, a council may serve a prohibition order, prohibiting use of all or part of the dwelling. There are other options available to the council, such as hazard awareness notices.

For more information about HHSRS please go to:



First published: May 2011

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