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Countdown to new housing laws to deal with 50,000 deaths a year linked to housing conditions

New housing regulations based on research by the University of Warwick come into force on the 6th April 2006 across England. The regulations will allow local authorities to address health and safety problems in housing stock that are linked to 50,000 deaths and over half a million injuries and illnesses each year.

The new regulations and the University of Warwick research they are based on turns the attention of housing inspectors from focusing on the structural state of a house to the effect of defects on the occupants, a crucial health and safety approach.

The new Statutory Instrument known as: The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (England) Regulations 2005 draws extensively from the research managed by University of Warwick School of Law researcher David Ormandy. He said:

"I am delighted to see our research findings become law. Previously housing law was more concerned about buildings falling down - now it is equally concerned with people falling down. Falls on staircases alone played a role in the deaths of 500 people last year"

Warwick Law School's research has led to regulations that will empower housing inspectors to examine and rule on a range of crucial potential housing hazards. Many of these hazards such as excessive cold, and falls on stairs simply did not feature in any previous guidance to housing inspectors.

The new rules will particularly benefit tenants and low income owner occupiers. Tenants with concerns about the health and safety of their housing conditions will be now be able to call in an inspector to examine a range of housing hazards that previously inspectors were powerless to act on. Inspectors will now be able to require both private and social landlords to resolve those housing hazards. Low income owner occupiers will also be able to use the new regulations to obtain inspections of health hazards that will then allow them easier access to grants that are available to low income house owners to rectify such problems.

Mr Andrew Griffiths from the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health Officers said:

"The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has supported the principles of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System since it was first introduced by Warwick University for the government. Risk assessment is a logical approach to assessing housing conditions and the CIEH has been pleased to work with the University of Warwick in organising the training of local authority officers in the use of the system."

Note for editors: Much more detail on the new regulations is available here:
http://www.odpm.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1152820

For further information please contact:


David Ormandy, School of Law
University of Warwick Tel: 024 7652 4936
david.ormandy@warwick.ac.uk

Peter Dunn, Press and Media Relations Manager
University of Warwick 07767 655860
02476 523708 p.j.dunn@warwick.ac.uk

PR24 PJD 4th April 2006