When renting out a property, it is the landlord’s responsibility to keep the building in a safe and livable condition. This means providing the appropriate facilities for things like hygiene and food preparation, as well as safe utilities, structural stability and so on.
If a tenant in private or social housing feels that their home falls below minimum standards, they can ask their local council to inspect the property and judge it according to the HHSRS, the ‘Housing Health and Safety Rating System’.
In an instance where a hazard puts a tenant(s) at risk, a council can serve a notice to the landlord requiring them to bring the property up to standard. In an extreme case, a council could have the repair work done and then bill the landlord, or even demolish the property completely!
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System outlines a number of categories which a council will take into consideration when inspecting a property. Keep in mind that a single deficiency can contribute to a number of different hazards. For example, if a property suffered from extreme cold, the elements involved could also be contributing to damp and mould, and so on.
The categories include:
Taking these elements into account, the council will rate any hazards in terms of how likely they are to cause harm. A ‘category 1’ hazard is one which poses a serious threat to the health of anyone living in or visiting a certain property. If a council encounters a category 1 hazard, it must take action.
When a council carries out a HHSRS survey and determines that a property contains a category 1 hazard, there are a number of actions which it can take:
If a council’s environmental department does not take action against an offending landlord, the tenant can still take the landlord to court.