The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is a system used by Local Authorities to assess the suitability of residential dwellings for occupation. It replaced the previous system - 'the Fitness Standard' - in 2006.

Its principle is that any dwelling, including its structure, means of access, any associated outbuildings and garden, can be assessed objectively to determine how safe a property is for the occupants and any visitors. The system is the basis for determining whether works should be undertaken that could result in the dwelling becoming relatively free from unnecessary and avoidable hazards.

Based on statistics collected nationally on the causes of accidents within the home and their outcomes, the HHSRS gives a ’rating’ to any hazards found by an inspector. Hazards are grouped into 29 categories as listed below and all deficiencies contributing to any particular hazard are included in an assessment for that hazard type. A single deficiency can contribute to a number of different hazards.​

This rating score is based on two elements:

  • The likelihood of harm occurring over the following year from hazards from a particular type compared to what would be expected in an average similar property, and
  • The probable severity of that harm to occupants should it occur

The assessment notionally assumes that the dwelling is occupied by persons that are particularly at risk - ('the vulnerable group'). So, for instance, the hazard type of Excess Cold is assessed with regard to the elderly, or young children.

If an accident or harm is very likely to occur and the outcome is likely to be grave for the vulnerable group then its rating will be high, and it may be calculated to be ‘a Category 1 Hazard’. If this is the case, the Local Authority has a duty to take action to reduce the risk to occupants or potential occupants. Having assessed the risks, the Local Authority is obliged to consider the tenure of the property and whether the current occupants are similarly at risk and choose their course of action accordingly. This action may take the form of a works notice on the owner, for example. Lesser hazards may be similarly dealt with at the discretion of the Council. For more information on the course of action see the Duties and Powers page.

Of course, there are some hazards which can’t be readily eliminated - steep staircases for example - but any risk of suffering harm by falling could be reduced by the correct positioning of banisters and handrails for instance. Where there is no practicable means of reducing hazards to an acceptable level the Council may have to consider prohibition of use of the building or part of the building for residential occupation.

The 29 hazard types are listed below. Details of what type of deficiency may contribute to the most common hazard type can be found in 'The Ideal Property' document under the Downloads section, together with an indication of what would be a basic hazard free minimum standard. This does not constitute a minimum standard for all residential properties; assessment of each building must be on a case by case basis.

  • Physiological Requirements
    1. Damp and Mould Growth
    2. Excess Cold
    3. Excess Heat
    4. Asbestos and MMF (Manufactured Mineral Fibres)
    5. Biocides
    6. Carbon Monoxide and Fuel Combustion Products
    7. Lead
    8. Radiation
    9. Uncombusted Fuel Gas
    10. Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Physiological Requirements
    1. Crowding and space
    2. Entry by Intruders
    3. Lighting
    4. Noise
  • Protection Against Infection
    1. Domestic Hygiene, Pests and Refuse
    2. Food Safety
    3. Personal Hygiene, Sanitation and Drainage
    4. Water Supply
  • Protection Against Accidents
    1. Falls Associated with Baths etc.
    2. Falling on Level Surfaces etc.
    3. Falling on Stairs etc.
    4. Falling between Levels
    5. Electrical Hazards
    6. Fire
    7. Flames, Hot Surfaces etc.
    8. Collision and Entrapment
    9. Explosions
    10. Positions and Operability of Amenities etc.
    11. Structural Collapse and Falling Elemnets