Are there hazards in your rented home?

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System or HHSRS is an assessment the council makes if you complain about bad or unsafe conditions in your home. The council can take action if it decides that your home contains serious health or safety hazards.

What hazards are covered by the HHSRS?

A hazard is a problem in a home which could harm the health or safety of someone living there. There are 29 hazards which can be assessed under the HHSRS.

The most common hazards are:

  • damp and mould growth
  • excess cold
  • crowding and a lack of space
  • difficulty in securing the property from intruders
  • risk of falling on level surfaces
  • risk of falling on stairs
  • fire

Hazards also fall into different categories, rated from 1 to 4. When a hazard presents a severe threat to health or safety of a resident, it is known as a category 1 hazard. Examples include:

  • your home doesn't have adequate heating
  • fire alarms don't work
  • a leaking roof
  • a broken rail on a steep stairway
  • a lack of physical security, for example your doors and windows don't close or lock properly

Hazards in your privately rented home

Ask your local council to carry out an inspection if you are worried about the condition of your home.

You can also ask the council to inspect a neighbouring property if you think it is affecting your health and safety.

An officer from the council assesses the risks in your home. 

The council must take action if it finds any category 1 hazards in your home. Category 1 hazards are the most serious. If it finds a category 2 hazard, it usually tries to deal with the situation informally, for example by giving the landlord advice about how to solve the problem.

When the situation is very serious (for example, there's no heating at all or there's faulty wiring), or the landlord won't fix the hazards, the council can take enforcement action to make the landlord carry out improvements. Or the council can fix the problems itself and then charge the landlord.

Get advice if you're not sure about hazards in your home. Use our directory to find a local advice centre.

Read Shelter's factsheet Health and safety at home for more information on contacting the council.

Hazards in your council or housing association home

To meet the Decent Homes Standard, council and housing association properties should be free of category 1 hazards.

Contact your council or housing association landlord if you are worried that there are hazards in your home. You can do this informally at first, by writing or emailing them.

You can also ask the council's environmental health officer to inspect your home.

If you're still not happy with the way your complaint is investigated, you can contact the Housing Ombudsman and ask them to look at your complaint.

Hazards in private tenancies provided by the council

If a private rented tenancy has been offered to you by the council because you're homeless, but the property doesn't pass the HHSRS, it won't count as 'suitable' accommodation. The council should find you somewhere else to live.

Read more about suitable and unsuitable housing offers.

Health and safety in shared houses

There are additional health and safety requirements for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

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