housing health and safety rating system to tackle housing in poor
condition has been launched today.
to ensure homes in poor condition are improved and made safe:
'The current fitness standard has two main failings. It does not
cover all the major problems found in a home and does not give any
indication of how serious the problem is.
'The new housing health and safety rating system will highlight
concerns not covered by the fitness standard, such as risks from
falling down unsafe stairs.'
The consultation asks for comments on the guidance for councils to
enforce the new regimes under Part 1 of the Housing Bill. It can be
accessed on the website.
deadline for replies is 26 March 2004.
1. For a copy of the consultation write to:
ODPM free literature
PO Box 236
Tel 0870 1226 236
Fax 0870 1226 237
2. The government first consulted on changes to the housing fitness
standard in 1998, and put forward detailed proposals to replace the
standard with the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) in
3. HHSRS (Version 1) was developed by the department's consultants,
the Legal Research Institute at the University of Warwick. Guidance
on the type of hazards that might be found in the home, and the
assessment procedure, were published in July 2000 together with a
computer program to carry out assessments.
4. Three more recent research reports, also available on the ODPM
housing webpage (www.odpm.gov.uk/housing), were published in July
2003 on work to inform Version 2 of HHSRS. These are an Evaluation
of Version 1 of HHSRS; The applicati on of the HHSRS in Houses in
Multiple Occupation (HMOs); and Statistical Evidence to Support the
HHSRS. The full and final package of HHSRS technical guidance
(Version 2) will be made available in spring 2004.
5. Measures in the Housing Bill introduced on 8 December 2003 will
replace the housing fitness standard with HHSRS as the basis for
action against unacceptable housing conditions. Action by local
authorities will follow a three-stage process: (a) the hazard rating
determined under HHSRS; (b) whether the authority has a duty or
discretion to act, determined by the presence of a hazard above or
below a threshold set in Regulations; and (c) the authority's
judgement as to which is the best means of dealing with the hazard.
Local authorities will have a number of options available to them to
6. Regulations will prescribe for the use of HHSRS as the means to
determine the severity of hazards. They will prescribe the method for
evaluating the potential effects of faults in dwellings on the health
and safety of potential occupants. The regulations will also specify
thehazards that can be assessed.
7. The enforcement guidance looks at general issues, such as the need
for authorities to take a strategic approach. It discusses the
assessment of hazards under the HHSRS technical system, and the
concept of the most vulnerable potential occupant as the basis of the
hazard rating. It also gives an account of local authorities' duties
and powers under the Bill - improvement notices, prohibition orders,
hazard awareness notices, demolition and clearance - and the
circumstances in which they can be used.
8. Councils will receive two sets of guidance. The consultation
paper, which contains draft guidance for local authorities on the use
of their powers in the Bill, and draft technical guidance on the
assessment of hazards under the new health and safety rating system.