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Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS) Information for Residential Landlords

February 2015

The Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS) applies to residential properties in England and Wales and has been in place since 2006. Despite this, awareness of the HHSRS is low amongst landlords, tenants and property professionals.

Our Residential Lettings Agency Terms and Conditions have recently been amended to include provisions relating to the HHSRS. But what is it and what do landlords and their professional advisers need to do?

Landlord’s duties

Residential landlords have statutory obligations to ensure that certain standards are met and maintained in their properties.

These include:

• Keeping the property “fit for human habitation” (relevant factors include damp, ventilation, lighting and facilities for food preparation)

• Repair of the structure and exterior of the property

• Repair of water, gas and electricity supply apparatus and sanitation installations (basins, sinks, baths and showers)

• Repair of central heating and hot water systems.

What is the HHSRS?

The HHSRS is a risk assessment framework for local authorities to assess the condition of housing in their area. Local authorities have a duty to keep housing conditions in their area under review with a view to identifying any action that may need to be taken – such as serving an improvement notice or a prohibition notice.

The system requires the local authority to identify “hazards” which are defined as the “risk of harm” to the health or safety of an occupier of a property arising from a “deficiency” in the property or in any nearby land or property. When serious hazards – “Category 1” hazards – are identified the local authority is obliged to take action. For less serious hazards – “Category 2” hazards the local authority may, but is not compelled to, take action.

A government survey of private landlords in 2010 found that 85% of landlords had not heard of the HHSRS. The Government has been consulting on updating the methodology and guidance to improve understanding of the system.

Amended Letting Agency Terms and Conditions

Our Residential Lettings Agency Terms and Conditions and Residential Property Management Service Agreements have been updated to include the following provisions:

• A requirement for the letting agent/property manager to identify and advise the landlord of any possible hazards

• An obligation on the agent/manager to arrange for remedial work to be done, if requested by the landlord and at the landlord’s cost

• An acknowledgement by the landlord that they understand their obligations under the HHSRS.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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