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CONSULTATION TO ENFORCE BETTER HOUSING CONDITIONS

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Consultation on the way councils will use the new evidence based ...
Consultation on the way councils will use the new evidence based

housing health and safety rating system to tackle housing in poor

condition has been launched today.

Housing minister Keith Hill said the proposed rating system will help

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.

Notes

1. For a copy of the consultation write to:

ODPM free literature

PO Box 236

Wetherby

West Yorkshire

LS23 7NB

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

March 2001.

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

mitigate hazards.

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.

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