Ryedale District Council

 

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Housing health and safety inspection

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). 

 

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.

If an officer from the council’s private sector housing team visits a property, whether it is after receiving a complaint from the occupier or during a routine housing inspection, they will look for hazards. There may not be any obvious items of disrepair or structural problems within the property, however, the HHSRS is concerned with the potential risks associated with the health and safety of both the occupiers and any visitors.

The rating system is not a standard in itself, so it is sometimes difficult to say if something is definitely a hazard before it is properly assessed. However, the absence of a handrail on a flight of stairs, a failure to provide smoke alarms or the lack of adequate heating within a property may all result in hazards. 

 

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

 

The council undertakes both proactive and reactive inspections of private sector housing within Ryedale, with the aim of ensuring properties are free from hazards which could be a risk to the safety of the occupier or any visitors.

The inspections are carried out by either an environmental health officer or a technical officer from the council’s private sector housing team who have received training on the use of the HHSRS.

A property owner who feels that an assessment is wrong can discuss the matter with the council officer involved and may also challenge a notice served through the Residential Property Tribunal Service.

 

The HHSRS can be used in all residential premises, including single houses and houses in multiple occupation (HMO) in both the private rented sector and owner occupation.

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.

The following document provides a guide for landlords and managing agents on the hazards associated with HHSRS.

Essential information for landlords and agents (PDF, 16 pages, 610kb)

 

The HHSRS assessment is based on the condition of the whole of the property. When making an assessment using HHSRS, the council officer inspects the entire property, including yards, outbuildings and gardens, where they will take photographs and make notes.

To ensure both accuracy and fairness, the paperwork side of the assessment will be undertaken after returning to the office using the guidance available and the information collected from the inspection.

Once the assessment is complete it will show if there any serious issues called (category 1) hazards or other less serious issues called (category 2) hazards. The council officer will then decide what action is needed to correct the hazards found, which may include enforcement.

 

The council as the Local Housing Authority has a duty under the provisions of the Housing Act 2004 (the Act) to address category one hazards identified in dwellings following an assessment using Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

Where a category one hazard is identified following the completion of an assessment under HHSRS, the Council in accordance with the Enforcement Concordat and Authority’s enforcement policy will determine the most appropriate action to remove or reduce that hazard. The Act provides a range of enforcement options depending on the hazard found and having regard to a number of factors, including the history of non-compliance and potential for harm, a decision may be made to proceed straight to the service of a notice which may incur a charge.

However, the Council can, before taking formal enforcement action a “pre-statutory notice” letter with an accompanying schedule of works will be sent to the relevant person seeking representations and giving them the opportunity to consider the findings and consequences of the HHSRS assessment. This letter will provide an explanation as to what the potential consequences are if either, no representatives are made or the representation made is not considered satisfactory to rectify and or reduce the hazards within a reasonable timescale.

After 15 working days from sending the letter, should the relevant person have failed to provide either, representation or a sufficient undertaking that the category one hazard will be removed or reduced then the most appropriate notice under the Act will be served on them which may incur a charge.

Failure to commence, make reasonable progress or to complete the work within any agreed timescales will require formal action to be considered.

 

Accommodation certificates can be provided by the Local Authority for people making certain types of visa applications to enter the UK.

If you are intending to live in the UK, on a permanent or semi permanent basis and require a visa to enter the country then you are likely to require an Accommodation Certificate.

This certificate will show that the household where you intend to stay is considered a safe and healthy property and will not contribute to overcrowding.

These certificates are issued by the local authority in the area where the property resides.

The certificate is issued after an inspection to ensure the property that the visa applicant is intending to move into, is in a good state of repair, meets certain safety requirements and is not overcrowded.

Whilst assessing property standards for Accommodation Certificates Local Authorities use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to identify the presence of hazards. The HHSRS is also used to inspect all other rented accommodation.

If you are concerned about any potential hazards and disrepair in your rented property, in the first instance it is always best to contact your landlord to discuss property repairs. However, we can offer advice and can visit your property to assess its condition. Please submit an Enquiry Form.  

The Council is a non stock holding authority but several Housing Associations provide social housing in the district, including the main provider of social housing, Yorkshire Housing.

Enforcement Options

Using guidance issued by the DCLG, council officers rate each individual hazard present within a dwelling on a pre-determined scale.

This results in a hazard score for each of the 29 hazards incorporated within the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). Scores are grouped into ten bands from A to J with Band A representing the most severe hazards down to Band J representing those with minor health impact. Hazard bands A to C are deemed Category One hazards. The remaining Bands are deemed Category Two.

As a local authority guidance is available to assess what enforcement action can be taken in respect of these hazards.

The housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS) is a risk-based evaluation tool to help us identify and protect against potential health and safety risks and hazards from any deficiencies identified in homes. It was introduced under the Housing Act 2004.

If we take action, we can make a reasonable charge to recover certain expenses incurred in:

  • serving an improvement notice
  • making a prohibition order
  • serving a hazard awareness notice
  • taking emergency remedial action
  • making an emergency prohibition order
  • making a demolition order under section 265 of the Housing Act 1985

We'll also charge for reviewing a notice that's been suspended.

Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy (PDF 389kb)

 

Council officers rate each individual hazard in a property on a scale. This leads to a hazard score for each of the 29 hazards incorporated in the HHSRS.

We're guided by three main points when making an enforcement decision:

  • the HHSRS hazard rating
  • whether we have a duty or power under the act to take action
  • the best way of dealing with a hazard taking into account the enforcement guidance

More information about the enforcement action we can take, including improvement notices, prohibition orders and emergency action, can be found at the GOV.UK website.

The GOV.UK website also features lots of HHSRS guidance for landlords.

 

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 £30,000 and could also be subjected to a Banning Order, for not complying with a statutory notice.

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 complete a service enquiry form or telephone 01653 600666.

 

Contact us


Ryedale District Council
Ryedale House
Old Malton Road
Malton, North Yorkshire
YO17 7HH

Email: Contact the Council

Phone: 01653 600666

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