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Private Rented Team
Plymouth City Council
Plymouth PL1 2AA
There are many pieces of legislation that give detailed requirements about housing standards and landlord responsibilities. The following document gives an outline of areas that most commonly give rise to problems, but is not an exhaustive list of duties and responsibilities.
All homes must be healthy and safe. This is assessed by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). It applies to all housing whether rented or owner occupied, family homes or houses in multiple occupation.
Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
The system has been developed to assess all the 29 hazards that may be present in the home. These hazards can adversely affect the health and safety of occupiers and any visitors.
When major (category 1) hazards are identified the council has a duty to decide on the most satisfactory course of action. In most cases this will be that the owner removes or reduces the risk. Usually this will be by improvement, but in some cases it may be by restricting the occupancy of all or part of the house or even demolition.
For lesser (category 2) hazards the Council may choose to take action.
The Council has approved a Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy; decisions will be taken in accordance with it problems (deficiencies) are identified and their health and safety effects considered. These effects can include any 'negative outcome' (ranging from a minor illness to death) that is likely to occur in the next year. We will produce a score for the hazard; this reflects both the likelihood and seriousness of the outcome. Each hazard is assessed independently; there is no overall score for the property. The higher the score the more serious the threat to health, safety and wellbeing of occupiers (or visitors), and the more likely that action will need to be taken. A score of 1000 or more is a category 1 hazard.
The assessment is based upon government guidance and worked examples. Further information on this is available from the GOV.UK website. Visit our Housing Health and Safety Rating System page for more details.
How is this different from the old 'fitness standard'?
The noticeable differences from the old system to the new are as follows -
- It targets those housing deficiencies that have a real impact on people's health
- Health and safety issues are now considered (for example, trips and falls)
- Heating is required to be adequate (instead of the previous standard of a fixed heater in main habitable room)
- 40,000 people die from cold every year, and the inability to efficiently heat their homes is a major contribution to this death toll
- Fire safety applies to all housing
- Radon, asbestos, security and other matters are now included
The 29 hazards
- Damp and mould growth
- Excess cold
- Excess heat
- Asbestos (and man made fibres)
- Biocides (for example insecticides)
- Carbon monoxide and fuel
- Combustion products
- Uncombusted fuel gas
- Volatile organic compounds
- Crowding and space
- Entry by intruders
- Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse
- Food safety
- Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage
- Water supply for domestic purposes
- Falls associated with baths, etc.
- Falls on the level
- Falls associated with stairs and steps
- Falls between levels
- Electrical hazards
- Flames, hot surfaces etc.
- Collision and entrapment
- Position and operability of amenities etc (ease of use of facilities)
- Structural collapse and falling elements
The decency standard is a minimum, 'non statutory' standard set by the Government. Councils have the target of ensuring that 70 per cent of private sector vulnerable households live in decent homes by 2010.
The four criteria the property must meet to be 'decent' are -
- There are no category 1 hazards under HHSRS
- It is in a reasonable state of repair
- It has reasonably modern facilities and services
- It provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort
Vulnerable households have been defined for the purposes of decency as those in receipt of principle means tested or disability related benefit(s).