The housing health and safety rating system
The rating system is a risk assessment tool used to assess potential risks to the health and safety of occupants of any type of dwelling. It can also be applied to an empty properties.
It aims to ensure that all dwellings, including the building structure, outbuildings, gardens, yards and access routes, provide a safe and healthy environment for the people who live in and visit them.
What the system assesses
It will address the hazards most likely to be present in housing. For example, the likelihood of a dangerous incident arising from the condition of the property and the likely harmful outcome.
The assessment is always carried out for the age group most vulnerable to the hazard in question.
Where there are hazards, the assessment could show the presence of serious, or category one, hazards and other less serious, category two, hazards.
What we look for
Our officers will look for hazards. We need to make sure that dwellings are free from unnecessary and avoidable hazards and dangers. If they are an unavoidable hazard, they should be made as safe as reasonably possible.
The rating system is not a standard in itself, so it is sometimes difficult to say if something is definitely a hazard before it is properly assessed. However, the absence of a handrail on a flight of stairs, a failure to provide smoke alarms or the lack of adequate heating within a property may all result in hazards.
The rating system covers 29 hazards which are assessed separately.
Carrying out health and safety rating inspections
We undertake proactive and reactive inspections of private sector housing in the Ryedale area.
A property owner who feels that an assessment is wrong can discuss the matter with the council officer involved and may also challenge a notice served through the residential property tribunal service. Details on solving property disputes are available on the Government website.
Where the rating system applies
The rating system can be used in all residential premises, including single houses and houses in multiple occupation in both the private rented sector and owner occupation.
Any property that comes to our attention, through a complaint for example, can be assessed.
We do not have to inspect every property in the Ryedale area, but we will inspect it if we have reason to do so. We also have a strategic duty to keep the housing stock in the Ryedale area under review.
How the rating system is applied
The rating system assessment is based on the condition of the whole of the property. When making an assessment, we inspect the entire property, including yards, outbuildings and gardens, taking photographs and making notes.
Once the assessment is complete it will show if there are any category one hazards or other less serious category two issues. Our officer will then decide what action is needed to correct the hazards found, which may include enforcement.
Action we will take once a category one hazard is found
If a category one hazard is found, we will determine the most appropriate action to remove or reduce that hazard.
There is a range of enforcement options, depending on the hazard found. We can, before taking formal enforcement, action a pre-statutory notice letter with an accompanying schedule of works. This letter will be sent to the relevant person seeking representations, giving them the opportunity to consider the findings and consequences of the assessment.
The relevant person has 15 working days from us sending the letter to provide either representation or a sufficient undertaking that the category one hazard will be removed or reduced. If that does not happen, the most appropriate notice under the act will be served on them which may involve a charge.
Failure to start, make reasonable progress or to complete the work within any agreed timescales will require formal action to be considered.
We can provide accommodation certificates for people making certain types of visa applications to enter the UK.
If you are intending to live in the UK on a permanent or semi-permanent basis and require a visa to enter the country, you will most likely need an accommodation certificate.
This will show that the household where you intend to stay is considered a safe and healthy property and will not contribute to overcrowding.
The certificate is issued after an inspection, using the housing health and safety rating system. The system is also used to inspect all other rented accommodation.
If you are concerned about any potential hazards and disrepair in your rented property, in the first instance it is always best to contact your landlord to discuss property repairs. However, we can offer advice and visit your property to assess its condition. Contact us.
If we take action, we can make a reasonable charge to recover certain expenses incurred in:
- serving an improvement notice
- making a prohibition order
- serving a hazard awareness notice
- taking emergency remedial action
- making an emergency prohibition order
- making a demolition order under section 265 of the Housing Act 1985
We will also charge for reviewing a notice that has been suspended.
If a property contains a serious hazard
We will try to deal with any problems informally. However, we can implement any of the following:
- serve an improvement notice requiring remedial works - the most likely
- make a prohibition order, which closes the whole or part of a dwelling or restricts the number of permitted occupants
- a suspended version of either of the above, which would put any work on hold until there is a trigger event, for example, where there is a hazard/danger but the household living in the dwelling does not include a member of the age group most vulnerable to the hazard. The trigger event would be when the situation changed and the household did include a vulnerable person
- serve a hazard awareness notice which tells the property owner that there is a hazard/danger but which does not require them to take any action at that time
- take emergency remedial action
- make an emergency prohibition order
- make a demolition order
- include the property in a clearance area
Landlords, owners or managing agents face fines of up to £30,000 and could also be subjected to a banning order for not complying with a statutory notice.