Law News

Government Criticised for Failure to act on Improvements to PRS

Renee Wells - July 6, 2018

According to the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) the Government have failed to respond sufficiently to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee’s report on the private rental sector (PRS), in addition to ignoring fundamental recommendations designed to improve standards.

The HHSRS, introduced in the Housing Act 2004, assesses risks to health and safety in the home and observes faults and deficiencies that can cause injury and ill-health to residents.

This system which has been implemented since April 2006, is the foundation and determinant of how local authorities decide on whether they should take formal action on unsatisfactory housing.

According to the survey of environmental health professionals, 97% of environmental health professionals agree that the HHSRS requires and update. 90% opted for an update of the official guidance in addition to better working examples. 71 respondents requested underlying statistics of this evidence-based system to be updated, while 53% claimed they had witnessed hazards that could not be addressed with the current system.

The official response from the Government states: “We recognise that the methodology and associated guidance for the HHSRS is now several years old and we will carefully consider whether it needs to be updated. In doing so, we would wish to reflect upon who is best placed, and has the necessary expertise, to carry out such a review.”

Tamara Sandoul, housing policy manager at CIEH, commented: “We are bitterly disappointed that the Government has decided not to make a decision on the review and update of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System – an issue that has surfaced throughout the Select Committee inquiry into the private rented sector.

“The evidence and guidance that local authorities use to take action on dangerous housing conditions has not been reviewed or updated since it was introduced 12 years ago. Housing courts rely on this outdated guidance to make their decisions. We urge the Government to commit to a full update of HHSRS and to see how it could be improved going forward.

“We are further disappointed to hear that decisions have also not been made on two other key areas of housing safety. The requirement to undertake five yearly electrical safety inspections and the need to provide a working carbon monoxide alarm for all rented properties with a fuel-burning device have been postponed until a later date.

“This is simply not good enough and the millions of people currently in the private rented sector expected better.”