Q&As

What duties does an environmental health officer have in relation to the housing health and safety rating system? What powers of enforcement do they have?

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Produced in partnership with Alexander Campbell of Field Court Chambers
Published on LexisPSL on 04/01/2018

The following Local Government Q&A produced in partnership with Alexander Campbell of Field Court Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What duties does an environmental health officer have in relation to the housing health and safety rating system? What powers of enforcement do they have?
  • Duties of an environmental health officer
  • Enforcement powers

Duties of an environmental health officer

The housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS) was introduced by the Housing Act 2004 (HA 2004). It provides a framework enabling local authorities to take action in respect of problems with housing accommodation.

HA 2004, s 2 imposes a duty on local authorities to keep housing conditions in their area under review with a view to identifying any action which may be needed under HA 2004. In compliance with that duty, the local authority must comply with any directions given by the Secretary of State (or, in Wales, the National Assembly for Wales) and must keep such records as required by the Secretary of State (or National Assembly for Wales): HA 2004, s 3(3).

Where a local authority becomes aware of a potential hazard in particular premises, HA 2004, s 4 requires the authority to carry out an inspection to determine whether a hazard in fact exists. Any inspection must be carried out in accordance with the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (England) Regulations 2005, SI 2005/3208. In practice, inspections will usually be carried out by an environmental health officer (EHO).

Operating guidance has been produced by central government which contains, in its Annex B, guidance on how inspect

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