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10Jan Fitness for Human Habitation Act & the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

Fitness for Human Habitation Act & the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

The fitness for human habitation act comes into force on 20 March 2019, to replace by the complicated provisions of Part 1 Housing Act 2004, which provided a system for assessing housing conditions and enforcing housing standards called the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (or HHSRS for short).

The full system used by local authority uses numbers to represent the likelihood of an occurrence as the result of a hazard and to represent the possible spread of harm. In this way, a score is produced to reflect the inspecting officer’s judgement as to the severity of a hazard, but these are more conveniently put into bands covering ranges of scores. The bands (and the scores) allow the severity of very different hazards to be compared, for instance, damp and mould, with carbon monoxide. The bands range from A (scores of 5,000 or more), which is the most dangerous and life-threatening, down to J (scores of nine or less), the least.

Local authorities are under a duty to take action in the case of category 1 hazards. If necessary (or if the owner/manager requests) the local authority may carry out any necessary remedial work themselves and reclaim the costs. They also have powers to take action in the case of all category 2 hazards (i.e. those which carry lower risks). Local authorities also have the power to make a reasonable charge as a means of recovering certain expenses incurred in taking enforcement action. There is no statutory limit but the charge needs to be reasonable.

There are 29 hazards which need to be considered, and these have been divided into four groupings:

Physiological hazards

  • Damp and mould growth
  • Excess cold
  • Excess heat
  • Asbestos and manufactured mineral fibre
  • Biocides
  • Carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products
  • Lead
  • Radiation
  • Uncombusted fuel gas
  • Volatile organic compounds

Psychological hazards

  • Crowding and space
  • Entry by intruders
  • Lighting
  • Noise

Infectious hazards

  • Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse
  • Food safety
  • Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage
  • Water supply for domestic purpose

Hazards which cause accidents

  • Falls associated with baths
  • Falling on level surfaces
  • Falling associated with stairs and steps
  • Falling between levels
  • Electrical hazards
  • Fire
  • Flames and hot surfaces
  • Collision and entrapment
  • Explosions
  • Position and operability of amenities
  • Structural collapse and failing elements