One of the most common causes of dissatisfaction is where the tenant has made a complaint for disrepair and the landlord has not taken action. The tenant then thinks they don’t care and the relationship deteriorates. Many issues of disrepair are very minor in nature and often escalate because of a communication breakdown. With landlord licensing the council will always expect you to have a good management plan to deal with disrepair. The council can ask you for evidence of how you have responded to complaints within 7 days. If you don’t have that evidence then they will come to your property and carry out a HHSRS assessment.
What is the HHSRS? The thought of the Local Authority inspecting your property can be daunting for most people because of the horror stories of how the council have made the landlord do lots of percieved unnecessary work. The Local Authority is not out to get you and make you do unnecessary work but they want decent good quality housing and have a duty to the occupier. We will work with the Local Authority and you to make sure that you property meets the required standards.
If you take a look at the detail below describing what the council is looking for when they inspect your property under the HHSRS. We think responsible landlords will accept that their properties should meet these minimum standards. Taxes are on the rise and the Health and Social Care Bill is out of contro. Poor housing conditions are proven to impact on the health and well-being of society in general so it is no wonder that the council come down hard on landlords that ignore the rules.
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System looks at 29 Hazards
There are 29 Hazards that get assessed as part of the HHSRS and these are listed in the sections below. However in general the inspections are looking at the following.
Water, Gas and Electricity. These items must have whatever is needed for their proper use. All equipment necessary to supply these utilities must be fully, safely and correctly installed. Any removable equipment or appliances which use gas or electricity are not counted as “installations” unless these are provided by the landlord.
Personal Hygiene covers installations such as proper wash hand basins, showers and/or baths.
Sanitation and drainage covers lavatories, WC basins, drains, waste pipes, rainwater goods, inlet gullies and inspection chambers.
Food safety covers sinks, draining boards, work tops, cooking facilities (or cooker points and space for cooking facilities), cupboards and/or shelves for storing cooking and eating utensils and equipment. It also includes food storage facilities (which these days are usually just electricity sockets and refrigerator space).
Ventilation covers elements such as airbricks, trickle vents, opening lights to windows and mechanical and non-mechanical ventilation equipment.
Space and water heating installations covers any kind of fitted space heating appliance(s) or central heating system. Moveable heaters provided by the occupier are not included. Installations for heating water cover any kind of fitted water system for providing the instant or stored heated water. Kettles and other appliances of that kind are not included.
When local authority officers inspect a dwelling they will look for any risk of harm to an actual or potential occupier of a dwelling, which results from any deficiency that can give rise to a hazard.
They will judge the severity of the risk by thinking about the likelihood of an occurrence that could cause harm over the next twelve months, and the range of harms that could result. The local authority officer will make these judgements by reference to those who, mostly based on age, would be most vulnerable to the hazard, even if people in these age groups may not actually be living in the property at the time.
This means even a vacant dwelling can be assessed and that if the dwelling is rated as safe for those considered being most vulnerable it will be safe for anyone.
Officers will use the formal scoring system within HHSRS to demonstrate the seriousness of hazards that can cause harm in dwellings. The scoring system for hazards is prescribed by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (England) Regulations 2005 (SI 2005 No 3208) and is also set out in the statutory HHSRS Operating Guidance for local authorities.
Damp and mould growth can cause serious threats to physical mental health especially in children. We will be looking for dust mites and fungal growth and would expect these to be found in properties with high humidity caused by a lack of good ventilation.
Excess cold can cause an increase in blood pressure and reduce resistance to infection because of the effect of cold air on bronchial lining and immune system. It can also worsen symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
There are serious health risks for the elderly, including greatly increased risks of respiratory and cardiovascular conditions. We will be checking that the heating system is appropriate and safely and properly installed and maintained and controllable by occupant
Excess heat can cause an increase in cardio vascular strain and trauma, and Increase the risk of strokes. The 65’s are most vulnerable. To assess the risk they will look at heating controls, amount of glazing, ventilation and thermal capacity.
It has long been proven that Asbestos causes long term health risks after exposure. HHSRS inspections look for the presence of and exposure to asbestos fibres and Manufactured Mineral Fibres (MMF, which include rockwool and glass fibre blankets) in dwellings. (White, blue and brown forms of asbestos fibres are included, that is chrysotile and both forms of amphibole.)
These are chemicals used to treat timber and/or mould growth in dwellings. Figures are based on people living in new or refurbished dwellings as these are more likely to be at risk. The potential for harm to human health depends on the particular biocide which is being assessed.
There are many health risks associated with Carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide which include;
- Inability of blood to take up oxygen,
- Headaches, dizziness, nausea etc
- Respiratory damage;
- Aggravated asthma; and
- Increased chest pain in people with ischaemic heart disease;
- May impair foetal growth; and
- High concentrations can cause unconsciousness and death.
The HHSRS will order a further investigation and safety report from a qualified engineer if there are indications of above average risk. In general the inspection will look a extractor fans in dwellings with open flued appliances and lack of or defects in carbon monoxide detectors as well as how well maintained appliances, ventilation, and flues.
There are two main sources around dwellings – paint and water pipes. Other sources of lead might include soil, especially around older buildings with flaking external paintwork and areas around industrial premises using (or having previously used) lead. There may also be lead traces in soil close to busy roads because of the exhaust fumes from leaded petrol.
When lead is taken in it builds up in the body. It is known to have toxic effects on the nervous system and blood production. It is known to have a detrimental effect on mental/intellectual development causing mental retardation and behavioural problems in children.
Figures show that children are particularly vulnerable to this hazard because of the ease with which their physiology accepts lead.
The main source of harmful radiation in dwellings is from radon gas. Radon is colourless and odourless, and it is not possible to detect it, either in the air or the water, without testing and measurement. Radon can be dissolved in water, particularly in private water supplies, but it is airborne radon that poses a more significant threat.
Probably the second most important cause of lung cancer after smoking, by-products or radon decay enter the lungs and initiate cancer. Figures indicate that five per cent of lung cancers could be traced to residential radon exposure. There is a possibility also of malignancies (e.g. leukaemia/acute lymphatic leukaemia/skin cancer). Variations in radon gas exposure depend to a great extent on geographical location where some regions are more affected by radon occurring naturally than others.
This hazard includes the threat of asphyxiation resulting from the escape of fuel gas into the atmosphere of a dwelling.
There are a range of organic chemicals that are gaseous at room temperature and found in a wide variety of materials in the home? Formaldehyde is included in this hazard. People in newly built/refurbished dwellings are most likely to be exposed to VOCs.
Some people may experience short-term irritation and allergic reactions to the eyes, nose, skin and respiratory tract. Higher concentrations can result in headaches, nausea, dizziness and drowsiness. VOCs can aggravate asthma.
The HHSRS will look at hazards associated with lack of space and crowding. It takes into account the psychological needs for both social interaction and privacy. It also looks at the effects of crowding on space requirements for household activity.
Crowding and lack of space has been linked to psychological distress and various mental disorders. It is also linked to increased heart rate, increased perspiration, intolerance, inability to concentrate, hygiene risks, accidents and spread of contagious disease.
This hazard is concerned with keeping a dwelling secure against unauthorised entry and maintaining its safety and they will look at Location
- where local area has high levels of poverty and crime
- Poor lighting around dwelling area
- Doors and windows – poorly constructed, fitted and in disrepair or inadequate locks;
- Lack of or broken security chains to external doors
There are serious mental effects associated with unauthorised entry that include mental harm, stress, anguish (emotional impact after burglary affects more than 75 per cent of victims). The worry and fear of being burgled tends to be caused by knowing people who have been burgled and by publicity about crimes (assessed as Class IV harm). Injuries where the victim is attacked by the burglar (aggravated burglary).
The HHSRS Includes threats to physical and mental health associated with inadequate natural and artificial light. It also includes the psychological effect linked with the view through glazing from the dwelling.
Distinct types of health conditions can be caused by inadequate light, e.g. depression and psychological effects because of lack of natural light/lack of window with a view/stress caused by intrusive artificial external lighting at night.
There are huge threats to physical and mental health from exposure to noise in the home caused by a lack of sufficient sound insulation. It does not cover unreasonable noisy behaviour of neighbours (domestic or commercial).
Figures show that a significant number of people have problems with noise from road traffic/neighbours/people outside. Men tend to react with outwardly directed aggression/annoyance/aggravation/bitterness/anger etc. Women tend to suppress their reactions saying they are tense/fraught/anxious. It appears that night-time traffic noise is more dangerous to health than day-time noise exposure.
Noise can affect both physical and mental health. Physical health effects include raised blood pressure and headaches. Mental health effects include stress and sleep disturbance, lack of concentration and anxiety. In extreme cases, victims can be driven to suicide and assault due to aggravation
The HHSRS inspections include;
- Location of dwelling in particularly noisy environment;
- Inadequate internal insulation;
- Inadequate levels of external sound insulation;
- Disrepair of windows, internal, external doors allowing increased noise penetration;
- Inappropriate siting of plumbing, fittings and facilities;
- Noisy equipment or facilities; and
- Overly strong door closers resulting in banging.
This is concerned with protection against infection and includes hazards resulting from poor design, layout and construction of the dwelling so that it is difficult to be kept clean and hygienic.
These health risks can include gastro-intestinal disease (from spread of infection), asthma and other allergic reactions (from allergens), stress (because of difficulties in keeping the home clean and from accumulations of refuse) food spoilage from insect infestation (e.g. cockroaches), infections (spread by insects and rats and mice) and nuisance.
- Design, construction and subsequent maintenance of building should help it to be kept clean preventing build-up of dirt and dust;
- Personal washing, sanitation, food preparation, cooking and storage areas should be capable of being maintained in a hygienic condition;
- Reduction of the means of access by pests into buildings to a minimum;
- All internal surfaces easily cleaned and pest resistant material to be used where possible;
- Dwelling exterior free of cracks and unprotected holes, otherwise grilles or other methods to be used for protection;
- Service ducting, roof and floor spaces to be effectively sealed but with suitable access if treatment is needed;
- Drain openings, WC basins to be sealed with an effective water tight seal;
- Drainage inlets for waste and surface water to be sealed;
- Any points in walls penetrated by waste, drain or other pipes or cables to be effectively sealed;
- Holes through roof coverings, eaves and verges to be blocked to deny ingress to rats, mice, squirrels and birds. Necessary holes to be covered by grilles;
- Adequate and closed storage for refuse awaiting collection or disposal outside dwelling;
- Suitable storage for refuse within the dwelling;
- Storage to be accessible to occupants but not be a danger to children; and
- Refuse facilities should not cause hygiene problems.
The HHSRS will include threats of infection resulting from inadequacies in provision and facilities for storage, preparation and cooking of food.
Fifty per cent of food poisoning cases annually arise in the home with food poisoning ranging from mild stomach upset to death from infectious gastro intestinal disease, severe diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration.
They are looking at
- cracks, chips and other damage to internal surfaces of sinks and worktops that would prevent thorough cleansing.
- damp affected surfaces that may degrade and become crumbly or flaky and support growth of micro-organism.
- Humid conditions can cause food to decay more quickly;
- Suitable storage for food to slow down deterioration and decomposition.
- Should be facility for food cupboard/larder and refrigerator and freezer with appropriate sockets;
- Should be adequate sized sink or dual sink free from cracks, chips or other damage plus drainer.
- At least four appropriate power sockets associated with the worktop(s) as well as two for general use.
- Suitably sized work tops, securely fixed; smooth impervious surface, easily cleanable.
- Kitchen floor should be reasonably smooth and impervious for easy cleaning and maintaining in a hygienic condition.
- Corners and junctions should be sealed and covered to avoid uncleanable junctions.
- Wall surfaces should be smooth, or with impervious finish and easily cleaned, especially those adjacent to cookers/sinks/drainers and worktops.
Deficiencies within the facilities themselves increase the risks such as cracks, chips and other damage to internal surfaces of facilities.
There are risks of infection and threats to mental health associated with the above, including personal washing and clothes washing facilities. There is stress and depression resulting from poor maintenance, particularly where the occupant has little control over the situation.
This is limited to the supply after delivery to the dwelling and concerned with water for drinking, cooking, washing, cleaning and sanitation.
There is visual examination of the installations and fittings within the dwelling for supply of water, then checking the water visually and for odours.
Includes any fall associated with bath, shower or similar facility, whether that fall is on the same level or from one level to another.
The most common health effects and injuries that result from bath falls are cuts, lacerations, swelling, bruising and fractures.
Possible death weeks, months after the initial injury as a result of cardio-respiratory illness, including heart attack and pneumonia.
Includes falls on any level surface such as floors, yards, paths. And also trip steps, thresholds and ramps where the change in level is less than 300mm.
There most common health effects are physical injury such as bruising, fractures, head, brain and spinal injuries. The extent of the injury depends on distance of the fall and kind of surface fallen on (e.g. stone, concrete, ceramic tiled floors or carpets etc.).
Following a fall, the health of an elderly person may deteriorate generally and death after an initial fall injury can be cardio-respiratory.
Falls on stairs account for around 25 per cent of all home falls (fatal and non-fatal). There can be physical injury, e.g. bruising, fractures, head, brain, spinal injuries and possible death. The nature of injury is dependent upon fall distance, age and fragility of the person and nature of surface struck. Ultimate long-range consequences can be cardio-respiratory, heart attack, stroke and pneumonia.
Where there are several flights of stairs or steps, overall risk of a fall on all the stairs and steps is to be considered taking into account fall risks on each of the different flights
- Stairs will be checked for above average steepness or shallowness
- Consistency and uniformity in dimensions of rise and going within a flight (except for obvious change in direction of stair e.g. use of winders);
- Avoidance of alternating treads, particularly those not conforming to current Building Regulations;
Includes falls between two levels within and outside a dwelling or building where the change in level is more than 300mm. Includes falls from and out of dwellings, e.g. windows, balconies, accessible roofs and over landing balustrades.
Also includes falls from any other change in level not served by stairs or steps (e.g. over the guard rails to galleried rooms and basement wells or to garden retaining walls).
Physical injuries include: bruising, puncture injuries, fractures to the head, brain and spinal injuries. Extent of injury depends partly on distance fallen and nature of the surface fallen upon.
Include hazards from shock and burns resulting from exposure to electricity but not risks associated with fire caused by deficiencies to the electrical installations, e.g. ignition caused by a short circuit.
There will be a visual inspection of the electrical system and fixed appliances to identify obvious hazards.
Where there appear to be deficiencies that increase risk above average, then a full inspection and test report by a qualified electrician, electrical engineer may be necessary.
The hazard assessment will considers
- Likelihood of a fire starting;
- The chances of its detection and its speed of spreading; and
- Ease and means of escape.
This is concerned with injuries from burns which are caused by contact with a hot flame or fire or hot objects or hot non-water based liquids. And scalds which are caused by contact with water-based liquids and vapours.
The Hazard assessment will consider
- Space and water heating arrangements at the dwelling;
- The temperature of the tap water; and
- Kitchen design and layout.
Includes threats of trapping body parts (e.g. fingers and limbs) in architectural features (e.g. doors and windows). Also includes striking (colliding with) features such as glazing, windows, doors, low ceilings and walls.
Statistics show a high number of such incidents as collisions and entrapments but window injuries tend to be worse, particularly when accidents result from cutting or piercing by glass.
Includes threats from debris created by the blast or partial or total collapse of the building as a result of the explosion.
Incidence figures are low but, of course, explosions can result in extreme harm. Typical injuries include crushing, bruising, puncture injuries, fractures; and head, brain and spinal injuries. Possible scalding if a hot water appliance is involved.
Includes threats of physical strain associated with functional space and other features at the dwelling.
It also includes physical strain which may result from avoidance of other hazards (see Collision and Entrapment and Falls hazards).
Inappropriate positioning of amenities, fittings, equipment and the layout of dwellings can have a significant effect causing strain or sprain fall injuries.
Includes threats of whole dwelling collapse and or an element or a part of the fabric being displaced or failing because of inadequate fixing, disrepair or adverse weather conditions.
Structural failure can be internal, threatening the occupants or within the immediate external area putting members of the public at risk.
Injuries caused by objects falling from the fabric of a building are extremely rare. Potential injuries range from minor bruising to death.