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click to enlarge image The Housing Act 2004
The Housing Act 2004

The new Housing Act 2004 came into force on 6 April 2006. The Act has a number of important changes including the redefinition of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and mandatory licensing for larger HMO's.

The main provisions of the Housing Act 2004:

The housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS).
Housing Conditions and Enforcement
Enforcement of housing standards including emergency measures.
Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation.
Definition of a House in Multiple Occupation 
Empty Dwelling Management Orders
Home information packs.

A new system to assess the standard of accommodation

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is a risk based evaluation tool to help local authorities identify and protect against potential risks and hazards to health and safety from any deficiencies identified in dwellings. It was introduced under the Housing Act 2004 and came into effect on 6 April 2006.   It applies to residential properties in England. 

The HHSRS assesses 29 categories of housing hazard, each hazard has a weighting which will help determine whether the property is rated as having Category 1 (serious) or Category 2 (other) .

The Housing Act 2004 introduces a new concept in assessing homes, replacing the existing Fitness Standard. The fitness standard focused on the structure of the building and facilities provided.

The new system, the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), is aimed at people living in the home. The system has been developed to assess all hazards that may be present in the home which can affect the health, safety and well-being of occupants and any visitors.

The HHSRS reflects the significant impact that housing can have on occupiers, not only physically but also emotionally and socially. Housing can affect health, in many different ways from, excess cold, through increased risk of infection, asthma and other respiratory illnesses. These are some 40,000 extra deaths in winter months, and significant cause amongst the older population is homes, which are not capable of being effectively and efficiently heated. The home can also be a dangerous place with injuries arising from falls, electrocution, fire and other accidents. The well-being impact ranges from depression to social exclusion and even reduced academic achievement.