The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is a method of assessing housing conditions, per Housing Act 2004.It replaced the unfit method several years ago and is mainly used by Local Authority Environmental Health Officers.
Councils have a duty to ensure dwellings are safe. Tenants can ask Councils to ensure their landlords put matters right. A number of factors are taken into account when looking at a property. One of the most common ones that properties fall down on is cold, which can be alleviated by insulation. Dampness, mould and risk of falls are also important. Electrical Faults and fire risk are other hazards. There are 29 Hazards that should be taken into account.
Much statistical analysis was done in the 1990s into morbidity ie why people died or had serious accidents. The risk of these happening was allocated according to dwellings (ie houses and flats etc) by their age, type, whether they were in single occupation eg by a family or in multiple occupation. Environmental Health Officers or indeed any practitioner can use HHSRS to assess whether the dwelling they're looking at is more or less safe than an “average” one. The property can be scored. You look at two things a) the chance of an accident happening, and b) the outcome of an accident eg if you have a fall from a bedroom window which is on the ground floor onto a grassy lawn the chance of you hurting yourself is unlikely, but if you fall from a third-floor bedroom window onto spiked railings then you may kill yourself so an adjustment is made accordingly.
A dwelling assessment form should be completed by the surveyor, the property will be identified, described and deficiencies identified. The hazards to which those deficiencies contribute should be noted. The average national likelihood of occurrence is obtained from a Government booklet. A high score means the property is unsafe and the Council may consider what if any action it should take. Councils have a palette of options eg they can send you a warning letter asking you to put it safe or at the other extreme close the property down and recover their costs.