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What is HHSRS, the Housing Health & Safety Rating System all about?

The key to the thinking behind the HHSRS is that a dwelling, including the structure and associated outbuildings and garden or other amenity space and access paths, entries and drives should provide a safe and healthy environment for the occupants and visitors.

It should be noted that all properties contain hazards and it is not possible to remove all hazards. The emphasis should be to minimise the risk to health as appropriate

Almost all councils are adopting a different set of standards to those set out under the “Fitness Test” of a property by the means of Housing Health & Safety Rating System or (HHSRS), which has 29 prerequisites that councils should check against, the main ones are highlighted here.

Dampness, Pollutants e.g. asbestos or carbon monoxide, sufficient personal space, security and lighting, poor Hygiene and sanitation, efficient water supply, prevention of accidents such as falls, electric shock, fires, burns etc.

These can be effectected so that damp and mould growth caused by rising or penetrating damp should be seen as a high priority whereas condensation mould should be addressed by better ventilation and ambient temperatures. Asbestos and such like need to be removed from the property by specialist firms and Carbon Monoxide detectors should be installed. Security measures should be put in place, such as 5 lever locks on main entrance doors, security lighting with PIR detectors. There should be multiple safeguards - against trips or falls due to uneven surfaces, worn carpets etc., Safeguard against electric shock by having the installation tested by an NICEIC contractor, Safeguard against fires by installing smoke detectors as standard, fire extinguishers and blankets in kitchens, Safeguard against structural collapse by regular and routine maintenance throughout the letting

Kitchens and cooking arears - There must be kitchen facilities in each room or a suitably located shared kitchen with hot and cold water together with draining boards, installations or equipment for cooking food, electrical sockets, worktops cupboards and rubbish disposal. If its a shared kitchen it must have adequate freezer space or a separate freezer, and appropriate extractor fans, fire blankets and fire doors

Washing and cleaning - There must individual bathing and toilet facilities or shared facilities suitably located, For 4 or fewer occupiers there must be 1 bathroom with bath or showers and 1 toilet which may be situated in the bathroom and for 5 or more occupiers, there must be 1 separate toilet with washbasin and at least 1 bathroom for every 5 occupiers

Heating each unit of living accommodation must be equipped with adequate heating

Other stuff - There must be the appropriate number and type of fire precaution facilities and equipmentincluding smoke detcors and alarms.

Safety rules -The HHSRS makes provisions that the electrical installation must be in sound condition (complying with Plugs Sockets etc (Safety) Regulations 1994,Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 andLow Voltage Electrical (Safety) Regulations 1990) and therefore the only way to make certain that this is safe and to the current specification – 16th Edition of the IEE wiring code, the installation must be inspected by an accredited contractor. Manu councils will only accept an NICEIC or ECA accredited contractor, although there are other accreditation bodies, these are the most widely accepted. The Gas safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and amendments regulations makes it a legal obligation to ensure that ALL gas appliances, whether fixed or portable, be maintained and checked every 12 months. A record should be kept of these checks and any maintenance undertaken. The Fire and Furnishing (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 and Fire and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 1993 regulations apply to all upholstery and upholstered furnishing, loose fittings; permanent or loose covers.

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