Letting agencies are being urged to help to shape the future of the rental sector by completing a survey as part of a new government review.
The review is of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, introduced in 2006. Under HHSRS each potential safety hazard is assessed separately and can be classed as either Category 1 or Category 2.
Category 1 if it is deemed a serious and immediate risk to a person’s health and safety. If a hazard is deemed less serious or less urgent, it is classed as Category 2.
The review will, amongst other things, assess the operation guidance and enforcement of HHSRS, as well as updating its assessment of hazards.
The HHSRS system provides local authorities with the means to check health and safety in residential properties and if appropriate advise or order landlords to carry out improvements.
"Completing the HHSRS survey is valuable for letting agencies, landlords and tenants as their input could have a bearing on future private rental housing standards" says Neil Cobbold, chief sales officer at automated payment service PayProp.
"The rental sector has evolved considerably since the HHSRS was introduced in 2006. Therefore, it's vital that the system is updated to reflect the current market. Letting agents can now help develop smarter, more realistic regulation for rented homes."
Cobbold adds that sub-standard homes are still an issue in the private rental sector. The most recent English Housing Survey found that 13 per cent of privately rented properties contained a category 1 hazard.
The current review is the second phase of the government's plan to update the HHSRS. The first phase was launched in October 2018, although no results or updates have been made public.
"These surveys inviting feedback from all stakeholders are a positive step forward and it suggests an outcome of the HHSRS review may be on the horizon" says Cobbold.
He says the review is timely and needs to take account of the much larger private rental sector that exists now compared to 15 years ago, and it needs to note the changing demographics of tenants and landlords.
"It's crucial that the HHSRS is updated to ensure guidance on property hazards is brought in line with current expectations and standards" he explains.
"New regulations introduced since the first phase of the HHSRS review, such as the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act and requirements for mandatory electrical checks in rental properties, could also affect how property hazards are monitored in the future."