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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Review of strategy preventing accidents in the home

Housing Rights Service believes the current housing fitness standard is unable to address the most common health and safety defects found in rented accommodation. We have recently submitted evidence to the current DHSSPS review of its home accident prevention strategy.

No reference to poor housing

We are disappointed that the impact of poor housing on home safety is not referenced as a risk factor, particularly when there is such strong emphasis placed by DHSSPS on the correlation between unintentional injuries and poverty, deprivation and health inequalities.  Just as having a disability, illness or other type of vulnerability can lead to a greater chance of sustaining an unintentional injury, living in poor or inadequate housing greatly increases the risk of having an accident.

Increase in unfit housing

This review of the strategy is opportune as, for the first time in many years, the rate of unfitness in Northern Ireland’s housing stock has increased from 2.4% in 2009 to 4.6% in 2011. This reflects the lower levels of disposable income available for improvements and repairs and the dramatic reduction in the availability of government grants to improve conditions in the private housing sector.

Our recommendations

As part of its home accident prevention strategy, we would like to see the DHSSPS:

  • consider the introduction of the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), which exists in England and Wales, in order to address safety concerns and improve the health and well-being of private tenants in Northern Ireland.
  • recommend that carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms be installed and maintained in all private rented homes.
  • consult with the Department for Social Development (DSD) on electrical safety issues in the private rented sector.

The consultation closes at 5pm on 9 September 2014

Tagged In

Fitness, Private Tenancies, Policy

This article was written on 1 September 2014. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.