Health and safety standards for rented homes (HHSRS)

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

Health and safety assessments

The council's environmental health or housing standards team can take action against your landlord if your home doesn’t meet health and safety standards.

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

How to get an assessment

You can ask environmental health to inspect if your home is unsafe.

If they won’t inspect or take action you can make a complaint.

Private tenants

Some private landlords try to evict tenants who complain about repairs.

Environmental health can inspect your home and take action if they find hazards.

You may be protected from a revenge eviction for at least 6 months if the council take action.

Housing association tenants

Environmental health may not take action but they should still inspect.

Council tenants

Environmental health can’t take action, but they can do an assessment and tell your housing office what needs to be done.

What counts as a hazard

Hazards that the council look at include:

How hazards are assessed

The council works out how serious the risk of harm is taking account of:

  • the likelihood of harm 
  • how serious the impact would be  
  • any extra risk to children or older people

The hazard is then rated as 'category 1' or 'category 2'.

A category 1 hazard is more serious and the council must take some form of action.

What the council can do 

If your home has category 1 hazards, the council decides what action they need to take. They may also take action over category 2 hazards.

They can give your landlord a notice saying what needs to happen next. You should get a copy of the notice.

Depending on the problem, the council could give your landlord one of the following: 

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 usually gives a time limit for your landlord to make your home safer. 

Sometimes the council suspends an improvement notice. For example, if a student house will be vacant in the summer and works can be done then.  

Emergency remedial action

An emergency remedial action notice tells your landlord the council are taking action straight away to prevent you coming to serious harm.

The council can do repairs or improvements themselves and charge your landlord.

Prohibition order

The council can serve a prohibition order on you or your landlord if the property is not safe to live in.

The order may say that you can’t use part of your home or you have to move out.

Hazard awareness notice

A hazard awareness notice warns your landlord that the council is aware of a problem in your home but that it will take no further action at the moment.

You should contact the council again if the problem gets worse.

Help from the homeless department

You can ask for homeless help if your home is so unsafe that it's not reasonable for you to live there. 

Don’t move out without advice though - the council will usually try to get your landlord to fix things so you can stay in your home.

The council could decide you're intentionally homeless if you leave your home when it's reasonable to stay. 

Court action

From 20 March 2019 you may be able to take your landlord to court if your home is unfit to live in because of hazards covered by the HHSRS.

It can help if the council have inspected the property and confirmed the hazards exist, but you can still take court action without a report. 

You'll usually need a solicitor.

Still need advice?

Contact a Shelter adviser online, by phone or in person


Last updated 21 Mar 2019 | © Shelter

If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help

Get help

Was this advice helpful?

Email a link to this article

Thank you - your message has been sent.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.

Was this advice helpful?

Thank you - your feedback has been submitted to the team.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.