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Rental properties come under the spotlight in Wales

Thursday 18 January 2018

The Welsh Government has released data for 2016-17 which shows the number of assessments carried out by local authorities under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

The HHSRS assesses 29 types of housing hazard and provides a rating for each one. Over the course of 2016-17, local authorities carried out assessments of 6,076 properties to check if they were safe or whether any hazards existed that may cause harm to the health and safety of the tenants. 

46% of these assessments were carried out at HMOs, with 'excess cold' being cited as the most common Category 1 hazard - those which pose the greatest risk and automatically result in the property failing the Welsh Housing Quality Standard and where the local authority has a duty to take action. 

In total, local authorities identified 1,949 Category 1 hazards across their inspections throughout Wales. 25% of all HMOs that were assessed had category 1 hazards, which compares very favourably to 38% of non-HMOs. 

As with HMOs, the most Category 1 hazards for non-HMOs was also 'excess cold'. 

However, things differ considerably when we look at the second most found category 1 hazards. For HMOs it was 'fire' risk that faired poorly with 25% of inspected properties,  whereas for non-HMOs 'damp and mold growth' proved to be a more prominent issue, with 17% of properties inspected found to be suffering from the problem. 

TOP FIVE CATEGORY 1 HAZARDS FOR NON-HMOs

  • Excess cold: 30%
  • Damp and mould growth: 17%
  • Fire: 11%
  • Falling on stairs: 9%
  • Other hazards: 33%

TOP FIVE CATEGORY 1 HAZARDS FOR HMOs

  • Excess Cold: 26%
  • Fire: 25%
  • Falling between levels: 11%
  • Falling on stairs etc: 7%
  • Damp and mould growth: 7%
  • Other hazards: 23%

The highest percentage of assessments containing Category 1 hazards was reported by the Vale of Glamorgan (83 per cent from a total of 102 assessments) during 2016-17 and the lowest percentage of assessments containing Category 1 hazards was reported by Conwy with just 9 per cent (from a total of 390 assessments).

Again, category 2 issues - those that pose a lesser risk and where the local authority may take enforcement - varied considerably between HMOs and non-HMOs, as can be seen below: 

TOP FIVE CATEGORY 2 HAZARDS FOR NON-HMOs (4,848)

  • Damp and Mould Growth: 24%
  • Fire: 12%
  • Electrical hazards: 9%
  • Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage: 6%
  • Falling between levels: 6%
  • Other: 43% 

Category 2 hazards for HMOs (4,941)

  • Fire: 26%
  • Entry by intruders: 12%
  • Falling between levels: 10%
  • Damp and Mould growth: 9% 
  • Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse: 7%
  • Other hazards: 35%

Rather worryingly, category 2 hazards were found in all assessments made in Powys during 2016-17; whilst as was the case last year, Conwy reported the lowest percentage of assessments containing Category 2 hazards (16 per cent).

Propertymark's own research shows that 55% of renters faced issues with their property including waiting a long time for any issues with the property to be fixed. These problems are reduced when the agent in question is a member of a professional body such as Propertymark.  Our own research also shows that 42 per cent of renters didn’t consider whether their agent was part of a professional body such as Propertymark before progressing with their transaction.

As well as valuable incite into hazards faced by tenants, the report also goes into selective licencing and licensing of HMOs, giving statistical breakdowns and comparisons. At 31 March 2017, local authorities estimated there were approximately 18,174 HMOs in total in Wales, with Cardiff cloal authority reporting by far the highest number of known HMOs, at 5,881. 

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT