As a buy-to-let landlord and owner of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) it is extremely important that good standards of maintenance and health and safety are maintained at all times, especially when the property is occupied by your tenants. Under the law covering HMOs, as a landlord you have certain obligations that need to be met and these are policed by your local authority who will inspect your property every five years using a series of risk assessments and the recognised Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to ensure your continued compliance with the law.
Housing Health and Safety Rating System
If you are the owner of a house in multiple occupation your local authority will carry out what is known as a Housing Health and Safety Rating System to check that health and safety guidelines set out by the local authority are being fully met, they will also carry out general risk assessments.
After every health and safety inspection, should there be anything that is brought to your attention by the local authority as a result of their checks, you should try to deal with it immediately.
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System or HHSRS as it is commonly known, is there to ensure that houses in multiple occupation do not pose a risk to the safety and health of tenants of the property.
How does a Housing Health and Safety Rating System Work?
A successful Housing Health and Safety Rating System inspection is required before any property that is to be used by multiple occupants can be rented out… so, how does the safety rating system work?
Even though there is room for variation, generally local authority inspectors will give HMO properties hazard scores with regards to health and safety compliance.
The scores given are entirely based on whether or not there are identified hazards that could injure occupants of the property.
Safety Inspections & Category Hazards
As part of the HMO health and safety rating system HHSRS scores are allocated specific category hazards, a category 1 hazard being the most serious, category 2 etc.
If an identified hazard falls into category 1, then this should signal to the landlord that something needs to be done as a matter of urgency, as it is the most serious category for hazards.
If there is potential for serious injury or even death, then a hazard will be put into this most serious category.
Category 2 hazards still need urgently addressing but are generally known to be less serious than those in the former category.
Inspections will also cover things such as physiological hazards.
Tests will also be performed for potential problems, such as excess heat and cold in the property, or serious hazards such as asbestos, lead and radiation, as well as damp and mould growth.
The local authority inspectors will also analyse public health issues including risks of infection in the property including things like legionella (the cause of Legionnaires’ disease), human factors such as lighting, noise and overcrowding; they will also look into the overall structure of the building and building fabric.
Local Authority Enforcement Powers
Depending on what the local authority inspectors find, and the severity of the hazards that are identified, local councils are able to insist on changes and force landlords into action in a number of ways including:
As a landlord it is a legal requirement that you comply with the recommendations made by the local authority in their Housing Health and Safety Rating System report… a failure to comply can have serious consequences
More Information about Houses in Multiple Occupation
For additional information concerning houses in multiple occupation Investment Property Partners have prepared a number of additional guides for property investors covering the HMO license application process, Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) and managing tenants in multiple occupancy property.
If you are a landlord or property owner and require further information or support on property management issues like those covered here please contact us to discuss how Investment Property Partners can help.
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More information about Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)… here →
More information about private renting and houses in multiple occupation from the UK Government… here →