Dealing with disrepair - the housing health and safety rating system in the Craven area

Find out how we assess housing conditions and the enforcement action we can take.

We use a risk assessment approach called the housing health and safety rating system. The aim is to enable risks from hazards to health and safety in dwellings to be removed or minimised.

What are the hazards?

The system can deal with 29 different hazards ranging from damp and mould growth to electrical hazards. 

You can find more information on the housing health and safety rating system page of the Government website.

How are assessments made?

The assessment process is not just a question of spotting defects, but is all about risk assessment, outcomes and effects.

When an inspector finds a hazard, two key tests are applied:

  • the likelihood of a dangerous occurrence as a result of this hazard
  • the likely outcome if there is such an occurrence 

Category scores are calculated based on the level of assessed risk. The hazard score does not dictate the enforcement action to be taken, but we have a duty to take action of some kind if they discover a category one hazard that poses an immediate risk to health in a property, and have a power to take action to deal with a category two hazard that poses less immediate risk.

Enforcement action

We will be guided by three main points when making an enforcement decision: 

  1. The housing health and safety rating system hazard rating.
  2. Whether we have a duty or power under the Act to take action. 
  3. The best way of dealing with a hazard having regard to the enforcement guidance. 

Hazard awareness notice

This is an advisory notice only.

It is normally used only for category two hazards. It is not usually used for category 1 hazards. 

This is often used where properties are owner-occupied. 

There is no time limit to the start of remedial works and no follow up inspection. 

Improvement notice

An improvement notice is used for category one or two hazards. Failure to comply with the notice is a criminal offence.

Unless the notice has been appealed, remedial work must begin no later than 28 days after the notice has been issued. 

There will be an agreed time period for remedial work to be completed and follow up visits to verify that the work has been completed. 

It is possible to suspend the notice in certain circumstances, for example, where a person of a certain description begins or ceases to occupy the dwelling. 

Prohibition orders

Prohibition orders are used for category one or two hazards and contravention of these orders is a criminal offence. 

The order may prohibit the use of part or all of a dwelling where hazards are identified, for example, serious threats to health and / or safety or to limit the number of occupants or prohibit the use of the dwelling to a particular group. 

It is possible to suspend the order in certain circumstances, for example, where a person of a certain description begins or ceases to occupy the dwelling. 

Emergency action

Emergency action is used for category one hazards only. 

It allows us to carry out immediate remedial action. It can also serve an emergency prohibition order which would have immediate effect. 

Emergency action is used when: 

  • there is considered to be an imminent risk to health and / or safety
  • property is considered to be beyond repair at reasonable cost

Emergency action is also used for demolition orders. 

Appealing a notice

An improvement notice or prohibition order can be appealed, normally within 21 days. Appeals are heard by a first tier tribunal which has replaced the previous role of the County Court. There is no restriction on the grounds of appeal but the main grounds for appeal are likely to be that:

  • the deficiency referred to in the notice does not amount to a hazard
  • someone else is responsible for carrying out work at the property and the notice should be served on that person
  • the works required in the notice are unreasonable / excessive and alternative works should be considered

The first tier tribunal (property chamber) can be flexible in allowing appeals and may also mediate where possible between local councils and owners / agents to try to resolve appeals without a formal hearing.

If a notice is not complied with within the time allowed, which is usually 28 days, prosecutions for non-compliance are heard in the magistrates' court. One defence that would be considered at this stage is that the notice was incorrectly served.

Landlord property inspection process

We would advise landlords to regularly inspect their property to minimise the possibility of notices or orders being served on a dwelling.

Inspecting your property

Inspect the property

  1. Go room by room checking elements, fixtures and fittings.
  2. Check common parts and outside the building. 
  3. Record any deficiencies, disrepair or anything else that may give rise to a hazard. 

Deficiencies - hazards

  1. Do the deficiencies contribute to any of the 29 hazards?
  2. Do deficiencies increase the likelihood of an occurrence or increase the severity of harm?

Remedial action / work

  1. What needs to be done to remedy the deficiencies and reduce risk? 
  2. Carry out works according to their severity. 

Keep records

  1. Keep a record programme of remedial works and their completion dates. 
  2. Retain all certificates and receipts. 


  1. Check that all hazards have been removed or minimised. 
  2. Re-inspect the property regularly, for example, when there is a change of occupants or alterations to a property in line with legislation.