Calls are being made for further action to be taken on poor housing to make sure properties are safe and not a danger to health. A report from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health shows strong support for the current Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) To be reviewed and updated.
The HHSRS was introduced in the Housing Act 2004 to assess risks to health and safety in residential properties in England and Wales. It shows the landlord’s responsibilities for the exterior and interior of a dwelling including water, gas and electricity along with recognising and testing for hazards through faults or deficiencies in the building which could cause harm. Hazards could include excessIVE cold because of heat loss, fire, lead from old paint, noise, pests and domestic hygiene.
The CIEH report looks at the HHSRS 11 years after it came into effect and builds on a recent housing safety report commissioned by the charity Shelter. It is based on a survey with environmental health professions who regularly use this system. The report found that 97 percent of environmental health professionals believe the HHSRS needs updating while 53 percent have come across hazards that are not adequately covered by the existing housing safety system.
The CIEH is now calling on the government to update the system including regularly reviewing the hazards within the HHSRS; introducing a national minimum space standard to prevent overcrowding; and providing a clear definition of ‘vulnerable occupiers’.
CIEH policy manager Tamara Sandoul said the HHSRS is important to maintain and improve housing safety. She said that after the Grenfell tragedy, it is more important than ever that the system supports the professionals who ensure homes are safe.
With this in mind, it is more important than ever to keep on top of property inspections and certifications. It could be that after Grenfell, and with calls to tighten the HHSRS, properties will come under even more scrutiny. Landlords could be one step ahead of any changes by looking out for any hazards or dangers which are not covered by the existing HHSRS as well as inspecting those which are in the report already. These could then be added to any check list for inventories, check-ins and check-outs, which can then be shown to officers if they should carry out an inspection and also to tenants to demonstrate that you are a responsible, professional landlord who puts their safety first.
Landlords can use software to keep records of all inspections and communications with officials and tenants in one place, so they are easy to find and readily at hand.