Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
This is possibly a piece of legislation that is borne in mind by us most often, but for which there is little or any recognition by anyone but local council enforcement officers.
Local authorities use this, when appropriate, in order to censure landlords who are not providing safe accommodation for their tenants. We effectively have to risk-assess every property, highlight areas of concern and have the necessary remedial action carried out. However, simply saying that a property is risk-assessed is possibly to devalue the efforts involved. There are a variety of sub-sections of the assessment:
Physiological – damp, mould, property temperature, Asbestos, biocides, Carbon Monoxide and combustion products, lead, radiation, uncombusted fuels, gas and volatile organic compounds fall into this category.
Mould, and property temperature are probably the issues most often investigated by us with mould being perhaps the biggest single problem we encounter regularly in our properties.
At check-in all our tenants are provided with information to assist in the identification of mould and how to rectify any problem. They also have to sign an acknowledgement of its receipt. We also provide reminders and more detailed advice when required.
Sometimes despite our best endeavours, mould becomes a problem. A tenant invariably blames the property and a landlord often suggests that it is the tenant’s lifestyle which is the root cause. Very often, it turns out to be a combination of the two, with loft-space ventilation or insulation and other similar property issues playing a part. We have a very good contractor who we call upon when we need definitive proof and by following his advice we invariably eliminate the problem, but finding a resolution is often a very labour intensive process.
Psychological – Crowding / space, possible entry by intruders, lighting and noise fall into this category. Window locks, patio door locks and entrance or hallway lighting are the areas we are most often concerned with.
Infection – Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse, food safety, personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage and the water supply are among the issues covered by this category.
Accidents – Falls associated with baths/showers, falling on level surfaces, falling on steps, falling between levels, electrical hazards, fire, flame, hot surfaces, collision and entrapment, explosions, position and operability of amenities and structural collapse/failings are covered in this section.
We spend a lot of time advising landlords about the need for stair banisters in particular and their correct spacing to adhere to building regulations.
Even where we are assessing for issues we do not come across, we need to be aware of the areas of concern. Such awareness requires continual ongoing training, in order to keep abreast of legislation.
A property is obviously assessed at the point in which we list it, but continual assessment is required since a property may deteriorate, or a tenant’s behaviour my affect the safety at a property. As a result, all staff involved in taking on, conducting viewings and carrying out periodic visits need to be aware of all the various issues.
Full details may be found here.