Landlords are responsible for the exterior and structural elements of the dwelling, as well as the inside facilities that are part of it. This includes the water, gas, and electricity supply; personal hygiene installations such as showers and basins; sanitation and drainage systems; food safety facilities such as sinks and cooking facilities; ventilation systems; and space and water heating installations. Landlords must ensure that all equipment necessary to supply these utilities is fully, safely, and correctly installed. However, moveable heaters provided by the occupier are not included in the responsibilities of the landlord.
To identify hazards in a dwelling, an understanding of the basic physical and mental needs of human life and comfort is necessary. Hazards are faults or deficiencies in the dwelling that could cause harm, and the dwelling should not contain any deficiencies that could harm the occupants. To determine if a deficiency is related to one or more hazards, an understanding of the functions and workings of each element of the dwelling and the ability to assess or test whether the deficiency will cause a hazard is required.
Hazards and their Causes
Hazards in a dwelling can arise from faults or deficiencies in design, construction, wear and tear, or lack of care and repair. Hazards become important when they have the potential to cause harm to the health, safety or lives of the occupants. A single deficiency can contribute to multiple hazards, and multiple deficiencies can contribute to the same hazard.
The HHSRS can be used to assess the state of a dwelling, even if it is unoccupied, and the hazard score produced by the local authority stays with the dwelling until any hazards have been minimised. The HHSRS focuses on areas of responsibility for the owner or landlord and does not look at areas under the control of the occupiers. Landlords are responsible for hazards in the dwelling, but not for fixtures or fittings belonging to the occupiers, unless they have been taken over.
The hazard bands system used by local authority officers assesses the likelihood and spread of harm from a hazard by producing a score. This score reflects the severity of the hazard and is placed into bands ranging from A (most dangerous and life-threatening) to J (least severe).
In assessing hazards, officers take into account factors such as the likelihood of a hazard occurring, deficiencies that could increase the likelihood, and the potential harm to the most at-risk age groups. The likelihood and potential harm are then scored, and the scores are used to determine the severity of the hazard. The cost of any necessary work is not considered in the scoring, only the danger to health or safety. If a hazard is found to have a high score, the local authority is obligated to take appropriate action, often requiring the landlord to remove or minimise the risk.
HMOs and HHSRS
The HHSRS is an important tool in ensuring the safety and health of residents in HMOs (Houses of Multiple Occupancy). It provides a comprehensive assessment of health and safety conditions and helps to ensure that all HMOs meet the minimum standards required by law. As more people continue to choose HMOs as a living option, it is crucial that HMO property managers are mindful of the HHSRS to ensure that their dwellings are safe. Click on the link to read our article to understand what does HMO stand for.
Local authority officers are tasked with examining HMOs, both shared and unshared parts, and considering factors such as the increased risk of infection, stress, or other hazards that may arise from shared living spaces. This comprehensive assessment takes into account the number of tenants that share these spaces and considers the potential outcome of any hazards that may occur.
The HHSRS considers a wide range of factors in its assessment, including fire safety, electrical safety, hygiene, and sanitation, among others. The goal of this system is to identify and address any potential health and safety hazards and to ensure that HMOs meet the minimum standards of safety and health required by law.
It is important to note that the HHSRS is not just about passing or failing a safety inspection. The system provides a comprehensive overview of the health and safety conditions in an HMO, and the local authority can work with the property owner or manager to address any issues and make necessary improvements.
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is a crucial tool for property managers and HMO managers to understand and follow. Landlords have a responsibility to ensure that their properties are safe for their tenants and the HHSRS helps to assess the state of a dwelling and identify potential hazards that could harm the health, safety, or lives of the occupants.
The HHSRS not only helps ensure that HMOs meet the minimum standards of safety and health required by law, but also provides a comprehensive overview of the health and safety conditions in the dwelling and can be used as a guide for property owners or managers to make necessary improvements.