Damp and Mould
Since news broke of the introduction of draft legislation for the Renters Reform Bill, announcements from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities have been relatively thin on the ground.
Never ones to disappoint, they released on the same day a response to an ongoing review of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System as well as a report on damp and mould. Accompanying the latter is guidance for landlords on how to manage damp and mould in their rented properties.
Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
The Housing Act 2004 introduced HHSRS and placed a duty on Local Authorities to keep under review housing conditions in their area. Subsequent regulations set out 29 hazards that could have a detrimental effect on an occupier. These include excess cold, damp, trip hazards and so on.
Where the Local Authority have a concern, an Environmental Health Inspector will carry out an HHSRS assessment. If any of the 29 hazards are identified they will be noted as a Category 1 or Category 2 hazard. An improvement or hazard awareness notice will be served on the landlord requiring them to resolve the issue.
The review concluded:
- That the current system needs to be simplified which would include reducing the number of hazards to 21 by amalgamating some of the current hazards.
- Additional measures will see the scoring system overhauled and replaced with descriptive terms such as “extreme” or “moderate”. With luck this will make the assessments easier to understand.
- New ‘baseline’ guidance will be produced allowing landlords to make their own quick assessment of the property. Where the baselines are met it is likely that the property will be free from hazards.
- Operating and enforcement guidance should be published to include case studies. These real life examples will help landlords identify and deal with any hazards reducing the need for local authority involvement.
Any modifications that help to make it easier for landlords to comply with their obligations are always welcome. New regulations are required to bring in these changes and we will keep you updated on these once they appear.
You can read the summary report in full here
Damp and Mould
Closely connected to HHSRS is the issue with damp and mould in rented properties; this is one of the hazards prescribed in the current 2005 regulations.
A Government report has assessed data from enforcement action taken by Local Authorities across England under HHSRS. The chart below shows responses from Local Authorities and the proportion of properties in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) that suffered from a Category One damp and mould hazard.
The report found that the average was 3.6% of properties in the PRS.
New guidance has been published to help landlords understand the causes as well as providing advice on how to address the situation. It is good practice for landlords to respond to any reports of damp and mould and this guidance goes further by advising landlords to proactively check their properties conditions. This can be done through routine property visits.
The guidance is useful for landlords, tenants and letting agents and includes information on:
- Health effects of damp and mould
- Legal framework around housing conditions
- Identifying and addressing damp and mould
- Reducing the risk
- Links to additional information for both landlords and tenants
As we approach the winter, now is a good time to carry out an assessment of your property to ensure that any fundamental reasons for the cause of damp and mould are dealt with. It is also useful to remind your tenants on the importance of ventilation to help reduce condensation levels. There are lots of resources online, however should you need any help please do contact us.
Please note the date this article was published as the law or the essence may have changed since it was posted. You should always seek independent legal advice if you are intending to rely on any of the contents. Unless stated otherwise this article only reflects the position for the Private Rented Sector in England and therefore may not apply to other countries within the United Kingdom.
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