Ryedale District Council

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Houses in multiple occupation safety inspection

The aim of this page is to provide some background information so that owners, private sector landlords and managing agents will be aware of the relevant content of the Housing Act 2004.

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (the HHSRS) replaced the Housing Fitness Standard, and significantly changed the way housing conditions are assessed. The Act introduced licensing for certain houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), for example, hostels, bedsits, flats and some shared houses; and some major changes to the way in which local authorities take action against unacceptable housing conditions in the private sector.

More detailed guidance is available from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH). Please see the links at the bottom of this page.

What is the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)?

The HHSRS is a risk assessment tool used to assess potential risks to the health and safety of occupants of any type of dwelling. It can also be applied to an empty dwelling.

The assessment method focuses on the hazards that are most likely to be present in housing. It looks at the likelihood of a dangerous incident arising from the condition of the property and the likely harmful outcome. The assessment is always carried out for the age group most vulnerable to the hazard in question.

Where there are hazards, the assessment could show the presence of serious (Category 1) hazards and other less serious (Category 2) hazards.

The overall principle behind the HHSRS is that all dwellings (including the building structure, outbuildings, gardens, yards and access routes), should provide a safe and healthy environment for the people who live in and visit them. Dwellings should be free from unnecessary and avoidable hazards/dangers or, if they are unavoidable, they should be made as safe as reasonably possible.

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The HHSRS covers 29 hazards which are assessed separately

1 Damp and Mould Growth  Threats to mental & physical well-being from living with dampness, mould and fungal growths and dust mites
Most Vulnerable: 14 years or less 
2 Excess cold Threats to health from exposure to sub-optimal indoor temperatures.
Most Vulnerable: 65 years plus
3 Excess heat Caused by excessively high indoor temperatures.
Most Vulnerable: 65 years plus
4 Asbestos and MMF Caused by exposure to asbestos and manufactures mineral fibres (MMF)
Most Vulnerable: no specific group
5 Biocides Threats to health from those chemicals used to treat mould growth and timber in dwellings.
Most Vulnerable: no specific group
6 Carbon Monoxide
and fuel combustion products
Hazards due to high levels of Carbon Monoxide. Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulphur Dioxide and smoke in the atmosphere.
Most Vulnerable: For CO – 65 years plus, for NO²,SO² & smoke – no specific group
7 Lead Threats to health from the ingestion of lead
Most Vulnerable: Under 3 years
8 Radiation Threats to health from radon gas, airborne, or dissolved in water. Eg leakage from microwaves might be considered.
Most Vulnerable: People aged 60-64 who have had a lifetime exposure to radon
9 Uncombusted fuel gas The threat of asphyxiation due to fuel gas escaping into the atmosphere within a dwelling.
Most Vulnerable: No specific group
10 Volatile organic compounds VOCs are diverse group of organic chemicals which includes formaldehyde that are gaseous at room temperature and are found in a variety of materials within the home.
Most Vulnerable: No specific group
11 Crowding and space Health hazards linked to a lack of living space for sleeping and a normal family household life.
Most Vulnerable: No specific group
12 Entry by intruders Problems keeping a dwelling secure against unauthorised entry, and the maintenance of defensible space.
Most Vulnerable: No specific group 
13 Lighting  Threats to physical and mental health linked to inadequate natural light and/or artificial light. It includes the psychological effect associated with the view from the dwelling through glazing.
Most Vulnerable: No specific group 
14 Noise  Threats to physical and mental health caused by noise exposure inside the dwelling or within its curtilage.
Most Vulnerable: No specific group 
15 Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse  Health hazards due to poor design, layout and construction to the point where the dwelling cannot really be kept clean and hygienic; access into and harbourage within dwelling for pests; inadequate and unhygienic provision for storing and disposal of household waste.
Most Vulnerable: No specific group 
16 Food safety Threats to infection due to inadequate facilities for the storage, preparation and cooking of food.
Most Vulnerable: No specific group 
17 Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage  Threats of infection and threats to mental health associated with personal hygiene, including personal washing and clothes washing facilities, sanitation and drainage.
Most Vulnerable: Under 5 years 
18 Water supply for domestic purposes  The quality and adequacy of the water supply for drinking and for domestic purposes such as cooking, washing, cleaning and sanitation.
Most Vulnerable: No specific group
19 Falls associated with baths etc Falls associated with a bath, shower or similar facility.
Most Vulnerable: 60 years plus 
20  Falls on the Level Falls on any level surface such as floors, yards and paths. It also includes falls associated with trip steps, thresholds or ramps, where the change in level is less than 300mm.
Most Vulnerable: 60 years plus
21 Falls associated with stairs and steps Falls associated with stairs, steps and ramps where the change in level is greater than 300mm. It includes falls on stairs or internal ramps within the dwelling, internal common stairs or ramps, within a building, access to the dwelling and to shared facilities or means of escape in case of fire. It also includes falls over stair, step or ramp guarding (balustrading).
Most Vulnerable: 60 years plus
22 Falls between levels Falls from one level to another, inside or outside a dwelling, where the difference in levels is more than 300mm, eg falls out of windows, falls from balconies or landings, falls from accessible roofs, into basement wells, and over garden retaining walls.
Most Vulnerable: Under 5 years 
23 Electrical hazards  Hazards from electric shock or electric shock or electricity burns, including from lightning strikes.
Most Vulnerable: Under 5 years 
24 Fire Threats from uncontrolled fire and smoke. It includes injuries from clothing catching alight, which appears to be common when people attempt to put out a fire. It does not include clothing catching alight from a controlled a fire by reaching across a gas flame or an open fire used for space heating.
Most Vulnerable: 60 years plus
25 Hot surfaces and materials Burns or injuries caused by contact with a hot flame or fire, and contact with hot objects or hot non-water based liquids, and scalds – injuries caused by contact with hot liquids and vapours. It includes burns caused by clothing catching alight from a controlled fire or flame.
Most Vulnerable: Under 5 years 
26 Collision and entrapment This includes risks of physical injury from: Trapping body parts in architectural features, eg trapping limbs or fingers in doors/windows; Colliding with objects eg glazing, windows, doors, low ceilings and walls.
Most Vulnerable: Under 5 years 
27 Explosions Threat from the blast of an explosion, from debris generated from the blast, and from the partial or total collapse of a building as the result of an explosion.
Most Vulnerable: No specific group 
28 Ergonomics  Threat of physical strain associated with functional space and other features at dwellings.
Most Vulnerable: 60 years plus 
29 Structural collapse and falling elements  The threat of the dwelling collapsing, or a part of the fabric falling because of inadequate fixing or disrepair, or as a result of adverse weather conditions. Structural failure may occur internally or externally.
Most Vulnerable: No specific group

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Who assesses dwellings?

Housing Officers will carry out assessments. Local Authorities are responsible for ensuring that their officers have the skills to perform efficiently on behalf of the authority. Inspectors must follow the HHSRS methodology and will make reference to the HHSRS 'Operating Guidance' provided by the government to ensure a high degree of consistency countrywide.

Which properties will be assessed?

Any property that comes to the Local Authority's attention, through a complaint for example, can be assessed. We do not have to inspect every property in Ryedale, but we will inspect if we have reason to do so. We also have a strategic duty to keep the housing stock in Ryedale under review.

What are the most common Category 1 hazards?

The most common hazards are cold, fire, falls, lead in drinking water pipes and old paintwork, and hot surfaces that could lead to burns and scalds eg fires, heaters, cookers and hot taps.

What happens if a property is found to contain a serious hazard?

Local Authorities have a duty to take the most appropriate action in relation to the hazard. We are advised to try to deal with any problems informally at first, however, the Housing Act 2004 gives local authorities new enforcement options for dealing with unacceptable housing conditions.

If we consider it the most appropriate action, we can implement any of the following:

  • Serve an improvement notice requiring remedial works (the most likely)
  • Make a prohibition order, which closes the whole or part of a dwelling or restricts the number of permitted occupants.
  • A suspended version of either of the above, which would put any works on hold until there is a 'trigger event' eg where there is a hazard/danger but the household living in the dwelling does not include a member of the age group most vulnerable to the hazard. The trigger event would be when the situation changed and the household did include a vulnerable person.
  • Serve a hazard awareness notice which tells the property owner that there is a hazard/danger but which does not require them to take any action at that time.
  • Take emergency remedial action.
  • Make an emergency prohibition order.
  • Make a demolition order.
  • Include the property in a clearance area.

Landlords, owners or managing agents face fines of up to £5,000 for not complying with a statutory notice.

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Enforcement Action under the Housing Act 2004

For information about housing tribunals visit GOV.UK - solve a residential property dispute.

Hazard flowchart

For further information please email the Housing department or telephone 01653 600666.

Protecting tenants against unfair eviction

On 1 October 2015 a number of provisions in the Deregulation Act 2015 came into force. These provisions are designed to protect tenants against unfair eviction where they have raised a legitimate complaint about the condition of their home.

These provisions also require that landlords provide all new tenants with information about their rights and responsibilities as tenants. They provide that a landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice unless they have complied with certain legal responsibilities, and introduce a new standard form that landlords must use when evicting a tenant under the ‘no fault’ (section 21) procedure. This will make it more straightforward for landlords to evict a tenant where it is legitimate to do so.

These provisions apply to all new assured shorthold tenancies that started on or after 1 October 2015.

Retaliatory evictions
Retaliatory eviction' is when a tenant is evicted for:

  • complaining about the condition of the property
  • asking for repairs or maintenance

The right to evict tenants
A 'section 21 notice to quit', which asks tenants to leave rented accommodation will be invalid if:

  • before the section 21 notice was issued, the tenant made a complaint in writing to the landlord regarding the condition of the property. A complaint will be deemed to have been made if a tenant did not have their landlord's postal or email address, or has made reasonable efforts to contact the landlord to complain but was unable to do so
  • the landlord:
    - did not provide a response to the complaint within 14 days of the complaint being made
    - in their response did not describe the action they would take to address the complaint or give a reasonable timescale within which that action would be taken
    - served a 'section 21 notice to quit' following the complaint being made
  • the tenant then made a complaint to the local housing authority about the same matter
  • the local housing authority served a 'relevant notice' (see below) in relation to the complaint
  • if the section '21 notice to quit' was not served after the tenant’s complaint to the local housing authority

Relevant notices
Relevant notices, which can be served to landlords by the local housing authority, are:

  • improvement notices relating to 'Category 1 Hazards' (Housing Act 2004)
  • improvement notices relating to 'Category 2 Hazards' (Housing Act 2004)
  • notices relating to 'Emergency Remedial Action' (Housing Act 2004)

From the day a relevant notice is served in relation to an AST in England, a 'section 21 notice to quit' may not be issued within six months, or in the case of a 'suspended notice', within six months of the end of the suspension.

Possession orders
Where a 'section 21 notice to quit' is invalid, landlord's will not be able to apply for an 'order for possession' through the courts.

Please email the Council’s Private Sector Team or call 01653 600666 ext 320 for further information.

 

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Malton, North Yorkshire
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You are here: Home All services Housing Private housing Houses in multiple occupation safety inspection