No matter how busy you are and even if your tenant has not reported any problems with your property, it is imperative that you make regular checks - as well as carry out a detailed annual assessment - to make sure you are not falling foul of any HHSRS regulations.
The HHSRS (Housing Health and Safety Rating System) requires that your tenant/s live in a safe and healthy environment and covers everything from fire and escape hazards to the presence of excessive heat or cold; from annual gas safety checks to pollutants etc. There are 29 different types of hazards under the HHSRS which fall in to three sections:
- physiological requirements (eg. excess cold / heat, asbestos, carbon monoxide and fuel combustion , noise, crowding and space etc);
- protection against infection (including personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage, domestic hygiene, pests and refuse);
- protection against accidents (examples include: falling on stairs, falling between levels, electrical hazards, fire, hot surfaces, collision and entrapment etc).
While we know that all our landlords do take good care of their properties, even with regular inspections by yourself, something could go amiss – which could cause real problems for you.
This Government guide covers off all the risks and hazards that are taken in to consideration when assessing whether a property is safe and we recommend that landlords use it as a bible to property safety!
How does it work?
If your tenant feels that their rented property has some kind of health and safety hazard, they can request that their local HHSRS Officer calls to inspect the property. The system allows the council to assess the housing condition of a rented property and then categorise the risks to the tenant:
Category 1 hazards – these are things that need immediate attention and which you must get done.
Category 2 hazards – there are two types. If the problem could turn into a category 1 hazard, then the Officer will enforce repair. If not, then he or she will make a recommendation that you get the issue fixed – but it is up to you if you do so.
What can you do?
No one wants to fall foul of the law. Ensure you carry out a detailed assessment once a year on your property, using the HHSRS guide as you go around your property.
Also, make sure you have your annual gas safety check carried out every year – and not just when you remember (this isn’t just a safety issue. As part of your landlords insurance contract, you are obliged to have an boiler service and inspection. If you don’t and your property suffers damage because of a failure in your gas system or boiler, then your insurer has every right to refuse the claim).
Check all your electrical appliances at least annually and before any new tenant moves in – you can find out more about your landlords electrical responsibilities here.
Finally, do encourage your tenant to let you know if they feel they have any issues – after all, they are the one who lives in the property and are more familiar with any repairs that need doing than you may be.