Health and safety standards for rented homes (HHSRS)

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is used to assess if there are risks to your health and safety in your home.

What is the HHSRS?

Councils use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System to assess if your rented home has hazards that could put your health at risk.

The HHSRS assessment identifies who's responsible for doing any work that's needed.

The council can take action against your landlord if the assessment shows your home isn't safe.

In some cases, the council can do the work and recover the cost from your landlord.

How to ask for an HHSRS assessment

Private, housing association or council tenants can complain to their council’s environmental health team and ask them to carry out an assessment of their home.

Common hazards you can complain about include:

How hazards are assessed

Hazards are rated according to how serious they are and how likely they are to affect someone badly. A category 1 hazard is the most serious.

The HHSRS takes into account any extra risk to young children or older people.

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 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. You should be given a copy.

The council can only serve one type of notice or order at any time.

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.

Contact the council again if nothing is done or the problem gets worse.

Improvement notice

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.

Prohibition order

A prohibition order puts restrictions on access to all or part of your home. It can also place 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.

Demolition order

In extreme cases the council can order that the building is demolished.

When the council can take action

If you’re a private or housing association tenant, the council can take enforcement action against your landlord.

Contact the council again if your landlord doesn't improve the conditions in your home. You can ask the council to take further action.

Council tenants

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 will tell your housing office what needs to be done to fix the problem.

If the council won't help

Private tenants may be able to take their landlord to court if the council's environmental health department doesn't take action.

Council and housing association tenants can use their landlord's formal complaints procedure.

Applying as homeless

You can make a homeless application to your council if you are living in accommodation that poses a serious risk to your health.

Don’t move out without getting advice first. The council may decide you made yourself intentionally homeless and refuse 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 £6,100  from the council if you've lived in the property for at least one year.

Eviction if you complain about conditions

If your private tenancy started or was renewed on or after October 1st 2015, you might have some extra protection from eviction after you complain about repairs to your private landlord.

You can only get this protection if the council has served an improvement notice or is taking emergency remedial action.

Still need advice?

Get advice if your home is not fit to live in and you are not sure what to do.

Contact the Civil Legal Advice helpline

Contact a Shelter adviser online or by phone

Last updated 18 May 2018 | © Shelter

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