You are here:

House of Commons Library

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

Published Tuesday, May 24, 2016

This Commons Library briefing paper gives an overview of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). The HHSRS is a risk based assessment tool which is used by environmental health officers to assess the risk (the likelihood and severity) of a hazard in residential housing to the health and safety of occupants or visitors. The paper looks at some of the reviews and reports into the operation of the HHSRS. It also looks briefly at wider housing conditions and standards.

Jump to full report >>

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) was introduced by the Housing Act 2004 and has been in force since April 2006. It replaced a pass or fail Housing Fitness Standard which had been in place since April 1990 and which had been identified as having some significant failings. For example, it was felt not to distinguish between defective dwellings and genuine health and safety hazards.

The HHSRS is a risk based assessment tool which is used by environmental health officers to assess the risk (the likelihood and severity) of a hazard in residential housing to the health and safety of occupants or visitors. The HHSRS is tenure neutral; it can be used to assess hazards in private and social rented housing and also in owner occupied housing.

The vast majority of HHSRS work is carried out in relation to private rented housing as this is the sector with the poorest housing standards. The HHSRS has attracted criticism on the basis that knowledge of its existence, and understanding of how it works, is limited amongst landlords and tenants. There have been calls for the introduction of a simpler and more straightforward set of quality standards, particularly with reference to the private rented sector.

The Coalition Government conducted a review of the HHSRS the outcome of which was published in March 2015: Review of property conditions in the private rented sector: Government Response, Changes to the HHSRS were rejected, instead the Government opted to produce a layperson’s guide to health and safety hazards in the home: Renting a safe home: a guide for tenants. Measures have been included in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 to strengthen the action that can be taken to tackle landlords that fail to tackle poor housing conditions, such as banning orders and the extension of rent repayment orders.

This briefing gives an overview of the HHSRS and looks at some of the reviews and reports into its operation. The paper also looks briefly at wider housing conditions and standards. There have been calls to introduce a housing fitness standard, this is discussed in Library briefing paper 07328: Housing Fitness in the Private Rented Sector.

Commons Briefing papers SN01917

Authors: Wendy Wilson; Alex Adcock

Topics: Housing, Housing standards, Private rented housing, Social rented housing

Share this page

Stay up to date

  • Subscribe to RSS feed Subscribe to Email alerts Commons Briefing papers

House of Commons Library

The House of Commons Library provides research, analysis and information services for MPs and their staff.