Health and safety standards for rented homes (HHSRS)
All rented homes must meet certain health and safety standards. The council can inspect your home and use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to assess if there are risks. They can take action against landlords if risks are identified.
What is the HHSRS?
The HHSRS assesses faults in your home and how they might affect your health and safety. The HHSRS considers how likely it is that a hazard would occur and how serious the outcome would be. If the assessment shows your home isn’t safe, the council can take action against your landlord.
The HHSRS looks at lots of different things, including:
- damp and mould growth
- excessive cold
- faulty gas boilers
- fire risks
- dangerous electrics
- the risk of falling on stairs, floors or paths leading to your home.
It covers problems in communal areas and outside spaces as well as problems inside the house.
If you live in a house in multiple occupation (HMO), there are also limits on the number of people who can live in the property. The number of people allowed depends on the number and location of cooking, washing and toilet facilities. If you live in an HMO and think any of these facilities are not adequate, get advice as soon as you can. Your home may be dangerous.
The Residential Landlord Association Cymru have produced a ‘Safe and Secure‘ home guide which gives examples of the most common hazards in the home.
What should I do first?
Firstly, you need to think carefully about whether to take action. In particular, consider whether your landlord is likely to try to evict you rather than do the work. He/she may be able to do this if you are an assured shorthold tenant, an occupier with basic protection or an excluded occupier.
Secondly, you should report any problems to your landlord in writing, and allow a reasonable time for them to be fixed. The time needed will depend on the urgency of the problem. If the landlord does nothing, you could send a second letter, warning that you will contact the environmental health department if the repairs are not done by a certain deadline.
Use our sample letters to help you:
What can the council do if there are hazards in my home?
If your landlord does not respond or deal with the problems, you can ask the council’s environmental health department to come out and inspect your home. Use our sample letter requesting an EHD inspection.
The inspection should happen quickly if there’s a serious risk of harm to you or your family. You might have to wait longer for an inspection at busy times of the year or if the disrepair problems are less urgent.
If the council decides that your home includes a serious hazard, they have to take action.
They can do this by:
- issuing a hazard awareness notice – this warns the landlord that the council is aware of the problem
- giving your landlord an improvement notice, ordering the landlord to carry out certain repairs or improvements by a certain time
- ordering the closure of all or part of a building or restricting the number of people who live in the property
- taking emergency action, to do the repairs themselves and reclaiming the costs from the landlord
- making an order to demolish the property
- buying the property from the landlord under the compulsory purchase rules.
If the council identifies minor repair issues in your house, they do not have to take action. However, they can decide to enforce the improvements, to avoid future problems.
What if the environmental health team won’t help me?
If the environmental health department doesn’t take action, you may be able to:
- take the landlord to court yourself
- if your landlord is the council or a housing association, complain to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales
- challenge the environmental health department’s decision not to take action by complaining to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales or by way of judicial review through the courts.
Get advice from Shelter Cymru if you are considering doing any of these things.
What if I have to move out?
If you have to move out of your home because it’s no longer safe for you to live there or is being demolished, you can make a homeless application to the council’s housing department. If you don’t have anywhere else to go, they may have a duty to rehouse you.