Housing safety

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

HHSRS was introduced in 2006 and is a risk based approach to the evaluation of potential risks to health and safety due to deficiencies identified in dwellings.

There is a clear link between poor housing and poor health.  The Private Sector Housing Team will undertake inspections of privately rented dwellings to establish the existence of any hazards.  We will do this in response to complaints or if we believe a hazard may exist.

You are advised to familiarise yourself with HHSRS and should note that if a category 1 hazard is identified, e.g. due to excess cold, electrical faults, inadequate fire provisions, overcrowding, falls and severe damp and mould, then the council has a duty to act and you will be required to repair the fault, carry out improvements or in some cases to cease using the dwelling or a part of the dwelling until it is made safe.

For further Information and to obtain a copy of: HHSRS - Guidance for Landlords and Property Related Professionals  GOV.UK This link will take you to an external website...  

Gas Safety

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 deal with landlords’ duties to make sure gas appliances, fittings and flues provided for tenants are safe.  Under this legislation, Landlords must carry out an annual gas safety check, known as the Landlords Gas Safety Check (LGSC), which must be undertaken by a Gas Safe Registered engineer.

Gas Safe Register is the official list of gas engineers who are qualified to work safely and legally on gas appliances.  Always check that your engineer is on the Gas Safe Register.  This can be done online using the engineers 7 digit ID card number and likewise you can report an illegal gas fitter or work online at Gas Safe Register This link will take you to an external website... .

Electrical Safety

Landlords must comply with the requirements of the Housing Act 2004, including identifying areas where electrical work is required in privately rented accommodation and promptly carrying out any repairs, actions or improvements that are needed and carrying out periodic and routine inspections, as necessary.  For privately rented accommodation the Electrical Safety Council (ESC) recommends that periodic inspection and testing is carried out at least every 5 years or on the change of tenancy.  

The council will always require appropriate documentary proof of electrical repairs, actions or improvements carried out.

For further information concerning landlord responsibilities for privately rented accommodation, including Housing in Multiple Occupation - Landlords Guide to Electric Safety This link will take you to an external website... .

Periodic electrical inspection and testing - Housing in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

HMO must be inspected and tested at least every five years (Management of Housing in Multiple Occupation Regulations 2006) by a qualified electrician (see below) who must issue a recognised test certificate.  This must be supplied to the council within 7 days of a written request to do so.

Building Regulation (Part P) - Competent persons self-certification scheme

Electrical contractors who register with a competent person self-certification scheme are able to self-certify compliance with the Building Regulations whenever they carry out `notifiable’ work.  Persons who are not registered with a self-certification scheme, including DIYers, will need to notify or submit plans to a Building Control body, unless the work is non-notifiable.

If you are in any doubt, as to the above or have any question please contact Building Control  This link will take you to an external website... for further information.

Government approved self-certification schemes

NICEIC Certification Services Ltd

NAPIT Certification Ltd


British Standards Institute

Building Regulations Advisory Committee Ltd

Crowding and space

The number of people who can accommodate a HMO is determined by the number of bedrooms, bedroom size and the facilities that are commonly available to any sharing occupants, e.g. bathrooms, WCs, kitchens and living rooms/space etc.

For licensable HMO the maximum number of occupants will be determined by the council and this will be stipulated on the licence.

A common fault with non-licensable HMO is to allow a mismatch to occur between the commonly available facilities and the number of occupants.  When the council finds `over crowding’ it may require occupancy to be reduced, commensurate with the existing facilities or improvements may be required (subject to Planning and/or Building Regulations consent).

Fire safety

Whether licensable or not generally has a greater requirement in regard to fire safety provisions, due to their higher risk status.  For further guidance on what sort of provisions, please refer to Housing - Fire Safety: Guidance on fire safety provisions for certain types of existing housing (LACORS August 2008) This link will take you to an external website...

For South Oxfordshire District the following fire safety provision are required for lower risk HMO (non-licensable), as a minimum:

  • A system of mains connected and interlinked smoke, heat detection and alarm (with battery backup) to be provided in the main escape routes, including (as a minimum) smoke detectors at each landing and the ground floor hallway, and a heat detector in any kitchen (type BS 5839 Part 6 , grade D: LD2)
    • A wall mounted fire blanket to be provided in any kitchen
  • Lockable doors, which are accessed from the main escape route and any final exit door must be provided with a locking mechanism which can be opened from the inside without the use of a removable key
  • In each room there must be a Building Regulation compliant escape window
  • Sound well-constructed and close fitting conventional doors to be provided throughout the main escape route

Further provision may be required subject to more detailed assessment/Fire Safety Risk Assessment, e.g.

  • All doors that open onto escape routes to be 30 minute fire resisting standard (Ref. FD30), including any kitchen door and complete with approved self-closing device.

NB. Hollow core doors are strictly unacceptable

The landlord must also ensure that any furniture and furnishings supplied meets the fire resistance requirements of the Furniture and Furnishing Fire Safety Regulations 1988 This link will take you to an external website... .

 Fire Safety Risk Assessment

The responsible person for a HMO has a duty to carry out a fire risk assessment.  For further information please see the 'Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service - HMO & The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 - Advice for Landlords' attached to this page.

Last reviewed: 26 - 01 - 2016

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