Principle of the system

The principle behind the system is that a dwelling, any associated outbuildings and amenity space, should provide a safe and healthy environment for the occupants and any visitors.

To that end, a dwelling should be free from hazards and where they are unavoidable they should be made as safe as reasonably practicable.

How will hazards be assessed?

Houses will be subject to a physical survey that will include the identification and assessment of any hazards found in the following categories:

Damp / mould Radiation Noise Fire
Excess heat / cold Uncombusted fuel gas HygieneHot surfaces
AsbestosVolatile organic compounds Food safety Entrapment
Biocide chemicalsCrowding and space Water supply Explosions
Poisonous gases IntrudersFallsErgonomics
LeadLightingElectricalStructural

The inspecting officer will then calculate a rating score for each hazard based on the severity of each hazard and its potential to cause injury to the occupiers. This assessment will be based on the risk to the potential occupant who is most vulnerable to that hazard.

For example, stairs constitute a greater risk to the elderly, so for assessing hazards relating to stairs they are considered to be the most vulnerable group. The very young as well as the elderly are vulnerable to low temperatures. In simple terms, the greater the risk, or more serious the outcome, the higher the overall score.

Scores are divided into ten hazard bands, A to J. Band A is the most serious and Band J the least serious. Hazards that fall into Band A, B and C are Category 1, which we have a duty to deal with. Those in Bands D to J are Category 2, which we may deal with if it is deemed appropriate.

What action will we take to deal with hazards?

The action we take will be based on three factors:

  • the severity of the hazard score
  • whether the Council has a duty or a power to act
  • a judgement about the best means of dealing with the hazard, including an assessment of the vulnerability of the actual occupant of the dwelling

The courses of action available to us will be to:

  • serve an improvement notice requiring remedial work make a prohibition order, that closes the whole or part of a dwelling or restricts
  • the number of permitted occupants
  • suspend the action and review the matter at a later date
  • take emergency action
  • serve a hazard awareness notice (give advice)
  • make a demolition order
  • declare a clearance area

The new powers will enable us to act in default and prosecute for lack of compliance. It will also enable us to charge and recover costs associated with enforcement action.

Useful links

You can also find essential information about the HHSRS for landlords and agents from the Sector Skills Council.