The HHSRS was introduced under the Housing Act 2004 and became effective from 1 April 2006, replacing the housing fitness standard. The Government introduced the system as the way of deciding whether the housing conditions of residential premises are satisfactory. It looks at whether premises have any defects that may give rise to hazards, which in turn could cause harm to the occupiers, or any visitors. A residential property should be capable of satisfying the fundamental needs for the everyday life of a household, such as providing shelter, space and facilities for the occupants.
All homes in the UK that are privately rented, council & housing association homes must meet the fundamental needs for everyday life covered under the HHSRS. This includes the right that a property must not cause harm to its occupants. A thorough risk assessment of the property can indicate this risk based on 2 Categories. Category 1 hazards are more serious and the council must take action. They can also act on category 2 hazards if they choose to but they are less serious than the latter.
A property must provide shelter, and this is a fundamental right. This includes a wide spectrum of things including shelter from damp, cold, excessive heat and pollution. Further to this, a property must also provide security from intruders.
There are specific guidelines from councils and governments as to what is a suitable space that can be lived in. An area that is often overlooked is headspace; for example, slanted ceilings common in lofts space are often not considered liveable and can result in properties failing to comply.
An adequate living space must include a basic level of facilities to make a space liveable. The obvious amenities include thing such as running water; however, adequate facilities for cooking can sometime be overlooked.
The HHSRS assesses 29 housing hazards and the effects that each may have on the health and safety of the current or future occupant or any visitor to the property. It applies to all residential properties irrespective of whether they are occupied by a homeowner or tenant. It is not possible to completely remove all risk of harm from within a property, but the system provides a way that hazards can be assessed and to decide on what is the best way of dealing with them.
The first step in making properties safe and suitable is identifying the problems that present hazards. Once hazards have been established a plan can be put in place to take remedial action to resolve problems with the property.
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