All rented homes must meet certain standards so they are safe and fit to live in. Local councils use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to assess them.
What is the HHSRS?
Local councils use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to assess if your rented home has hazards that could put your health at risk.
A hazard is a problem in your home that could harm the health or safety of anyone living there.
The HHSRS assessment identifies who's responsible for doing any work that's needed.
If the assessment shows your home isn't safe, the council can take action against your landlord. In some cases, the council may do the work and recover the cost from your landlord.
Who can make a complaint under the HHSRS
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System covers any rented home. You can complain if you are a private, housing association or council tenant.
The HHSRS can help you if you rent a house, flat or a room in a shared home.
Types of hazards you can complain about
Common hazards that affect health in the home include:
- damp and mould growth
- excessive cold
Common hazards that affect safety in the home include:
They also include the risk of falling on stairs, floors or paths leading to your home.
How hazards are rated
The hazards in your home are rated according to how serious they are and how likely it is that someone will be badly affected by them.
The HHSRS takes into account any extra risk to young children or older people. A category 1 hazard is the most serious.
Category 1 hazards
A category 1 hazard is a hazard that poses a serious threat to the health or safety of people living in or visiting your home.
Examples of category 1 hazards can include:
- exposed wiring or overloaded electrical sockets
- dangerous or broken boiler
- bedrooms that are very cold
- leaking roof
- mould on the walls or ceiling
- rats or other pest or vermin infestation
- broken steps at the top of the stairs
- lack of security due to badly-fitting external doors or problems with locks
The council must take action if its assessment shows that there is category 1 hazard in your home.
Action the council can take
The council decides what action to take against your landlord if repairs or essential works are needed to improve health and safety in your home
They can serve your landlord with a notice or order that sets out what your landlord should do. The council can only serve one type of notice or order at any time. You should be given a copy.
The council can also provide advice to tenants on any problems they can deal with themselves.
Hazard awareness notice
A hazard awareness notice warns your landlord that the council is aware of a problem in your home and that it will take no further action at the moment. You should contact the council again if nothing is done or the problem gets worse.
An improvement notice tells your landlord to carry out repairs or improvements that are needed to remove or reduce the risk to your health and safety. The notice gives a time limit for your landlord to do the work. Your landlord can be prosecuted or fined if they don't comply.
Emergency remedial action
If it's likely that you'll suffer serious harm in the near future if conditions in your home don't improve, the council can take emergency action.
The council can do the work itself and charge your landlord for it.
A prohibition order puts restrictions on access to all or part of your home or places a limit on the number of people living there.
The council can suspend the prohibition order so that people currently living there don't have to move out but new people can't move in.
These orders are not common.
In extreme cases the council can order that the building is demolished.
What the council can do
If you rent your home from a private landlord, the council can take enforcement action against them.
The council can also take enforcement action against a housing association landlord.
If you rent your home from the council, environmental health can't take enforcement action against your landlord but they should inspect your home. They should tell your housing office what needs to be done to fix the problem.
If your landlord doesn't do what the council orders
Contact the council again if your landlord doesn't improve the conditions in your home. You can ask the council to take further action.
If you have to move out of your home
You can make a homeless application to the council's housing department if you have to move out of your home because it's:
- no longer safe for you to live there
- being demolished
The council may have a duty to rehouse you.
If you have to leave because the council made a prohibition or demolition order, you can claim a home loss payment of £5,300 from the council if you've lived in the property for at least one year.
Court action and complaints if the council won't help
You may be able to take your landlord to court if the council's environmental health department doesn't take action.
If you are a council tenant, you can complain to the Housing Ombudsman if the council hasn't done the work needed, as long as you've already gone through the council's complaints procedure.
Eviction if you complain about conditions
Find out more about the risk of eviction if you complain about repairs or conditions in your home.
If your tenancy started or was renewed on or after October 1st 2015, you might have some extra protection from eviction.
Get more advice from Shelter
Get advice if your home is not fit to live in and you are not sure what to do. Contact a Shelter advice centre, Citizens Advice, your local council or other local advice centre.