HHSRS open to landlord input

The government’s desire to update The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) has seen them encourage landlords to help suggest potential changes. The rating system hasn’t been updated over the past 15 years. ;

The government’s desire to update The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) has seen them encourage landlords to help suggest potential changes.

The rating system, which is used by local authorities to judge health and safety issues relating to properties, hasn’t been updated over the past 15 years.

The Ministry for Housing and Local Government has decided that, over time, building technology and knowledge of risk has increased to such an extent that the current guidelines aren’t as relevant anymore.

An initial consultation took place in February 2019, to consider what options there were in simplifying and updating the HHSRS process, which led to the government setting out what they intend to do with the system.

This included not only a review of the current guidance but promises to develop a comprehensive set of worked examples, encompassing the full range of potential hazards and to investigate the use of digital technology to support those carrying out the assessments.

These changes were all aimed at directly addressing what the government had been informed by both specialists and landlords alike: that the system needs to be easier to understand, that minimum standards for common health and safety hazards should be developed and that digital solutions for inspecting rented houses and flats should be explored.

The HHSRS currently designates 29 issues that may be present in rental properties, such as structural defects, damp, mould, ventilation and excess cold, into one of ten bands. A system that has criticised for being unnecessarily confusing.

This is the first step used by local authorities when deciding which, if any, of the powers under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004 Act should be used. It is also a component of the Decent Homes Standard.

Share your views via the Government survey

The government have created surveys aimed at different stakeholders in the industry to get a breadth of viewpoints.

The landlord-specific survey, which can be accessed here, will collate the views of landlords around the country, it is estimated that the survey will take respondents 45 minutes to complete.

The review and its associated research key areas of focus are as follows:

  • Review of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) Operating Guidance
  • Development of an updated set of worked examples
  • Reviewed HHSRS training for assessors and other stakeholders, including the introduction of a competency framework
  • Development of a simpler means of banding HHSRS assessment results
  • New recommended minimum standards
  • Assessment into the amalgamation or removal of existing hazard profiles
  • Review of HHSRS digital assessment tools
  • Reviewed and updated HHSRS ‘Landlords Guidance’ and new ‘Tenants Guidance’
  • Reviewed and updated HHSRS Enforcement Guidance
  • Review of the fire safety hazard

The government stated the survey was relevant to all landlords, regardless of the amount of rental properties they own saying:

“This survey is aimed at a wide variety of organisations from those at one extreme that own/manage tens of thousands of dwellings through to a person that lets out just one dwelling.”

They continued by emphasising that although the surveys are thorough, they wanted to hear from as wide of a range of stakeholders as possible, saying:

“Do not be put off from completing the survey. The aim is to assist in informing significant improvements to the HHSRS.”

In total there are four surveys running until the end of March, aiming to collate the views of anyone who is impacted by the HHSRS including housing regulators and surveyors, landlords, other property professionals and residents.

This information should not be interpreted as financial advice. Mortgage and loan rates are subject to change.