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homeTuesday 16th January 2018

HHSRS Eleven years on

Tamara Sandoul11/01/2018 - 16:01

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How well does the HHSRS tackle hazards
How well does the HHSRS tackle hazards

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System is a vital tool to maintaining and improving housing conditions in England and Wales. EHPs use it regularly to both assess housing conditions and to support enforcement action against rogue landlords. However, since the rating system was introduced more than a decade ago, no assessment has been done to find out what the environmental health profession thinks CIEH policy Tamara Sandoul has authored a report on the rating system eleven years on.

In April 2017, CIEH ran a survey asking environmental health professionals what they thought about the Housing Health and Safety Rating System and how well it is working. The report HHSRS: 11 years on analyses the responses we received and makes several recommendations to DCLG. 170 professionals responded to the survey, representing at least a quarter of LAs. Over 80 per cent of respondents said they were either regular users of the rating system or had been using it for over five years. 

Some of the key findings are: 

  • 97 per cent of respondents said want to see HHSRS updated, with the majority asking for the operating guidance to be reviewed.
  • 71 comments called for an update of the underlying statistics in particular
  • Over half (55%) of respondents were supportive of HHSRS or a risk based approach system as a way of enforcing housing conditions and 62 per cent felt HHSRS was an improvement on the previous system
  • Areas cited as being particularly in need of updates include: excess cold and heat, crowding and space, fire and electrical safety, as well as damp and mould.
  • Enforcement guidance and worked examples were also highlighted as being in need of a review and update.

The report recommendations are:  

  1. DCLG to put in place a system of regular review and update of all the hazard profiles in the HHSRS operating guidance, including any new evidence published and any shifts in housing conditions.
  2. DCLG to review any significant FTT and RPT decisions, by working in consultation with EHPs and other stakeholders, to identify and update areas of the HHSRS enforcement guidance where further clarification would be useful.
  3. DCLG to review published worked examples to see whether these can be improved and updated.
  4. DCLG to review any significant FTT and RPT decisions, by working in consultation with EHPs and other stakeholders, to identify and update areas of the HHSRS enforcement guidance where further clarification would be useful. New powers from the Housing and Planning Act 2016 should also be included in this update.
  5. DCLG to clarify in the HHSRS enforcement guidance, how to apply the definition of vulnerable occupiers and in which cases it is appropriate to apply the risk rating for vulnerable groups if the actual occupiers are of working age. This includes to what extent people living with long term conditions should be considered as vulnerable.
  6. DCLG to work with stakeholders to set a clear national minimum space standard to ensure that building regulations are aligned with housing enforcement legislation.

The full report is available here 

 

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