Housing in poor condition
There are minimum standards that apply to all private rented housing, in order to avoid housing in poor condition.
These standards are to ensure homes are safe to live in, warm, energy efficient and do not cause harm or illness to the occupiers.
The Housing Act 2004 gives power to Local Housing Authorities to enforce these standards.
Our Environmental Health and Housing teams work to ensure that homes in the private rented sector meet the required standards.
Enforcement actionmay be taken against some landlords who fail to maintain privately rented property.
Landlords responsibilities to avoid housing in poor condition
The landlord is normally responsible for:
- Ensuring that hazards in the home are either eliminated or minimised
- the structure of the property
- the exterior of the building, including the roof, guttering, chimneys, plaster work, walls, windows and doors
- ensuring that equipment for supplying utilities is kept in good condition, including;
pipes supplying gas
electricity or water
flues (for example, for gas boilers) and ventilation
- the supply of hot water
- ensuring any gas appliance (including gas boilers) is safely installed and working properly.
The landlord should be able to produce a gas safety certificate upon request
a Gas Safe registered engineer must test appliances every 12 months
a record of the safety check must be made available to you within 28 days of each annual check.
Enforcement of gas safety regulations is the responsibility of the Health and Safety Executive.
The landlord is responsible for damp, if:
- The damp is caused by a structural defect in the property
- the property lacks damp proofing
- there's a leak (for example, in the roof)
- there's inadequate insulation, heating or ventilation causing condensation
The landlord may not be responsible if the damp is caused by condensation due to the lifestyle of the tenant, for example if the tenant:
- Dries their clothes inside rooms
- uses unventilated tumble driers
- does not open windows for ventilation
- does not use the heating system sufficiently.
In these circumstances tenants should seek advice to establish who is responsible for repairs.
Furniture and furnishings
All furniture and furnishings should meet the fire resistance requirements of the Furnishing (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988.
These regulations set levels of fire resistance for all new and second hand furniture in let accommodation.
If you require further advice contact Trading Standards.
If there are items in need of repair or there are hazards that are damaging your health, you should contact your landlord.
If your landlord refuses to deal with the repairs or hazard, then contact Health and Environmental Services.
An officer will inspect the problem and notify the landlord of any deficiencies they're responsible for.
Unless emergency action is required, or if there is a history of non-compliance, we will try to deal with the matter informally.
However, if the landlord fails to co-operate and the hazard is sufficiently serious, we can take formal action.
This could involve serving a formal notice on the landlord. These are subject to appeal provisions and require work to be carried out within a specified timescale.
Failure to carry out the work could result in prosecution and/or the Council carrying out the work in default and recovering costs.
Carrying out work in default
In some circumstances we can carry out works required by others to do. This is called 'works in default'. Sometimes it's the quickest and most satisfactory way of making necessary repairs.
In these cases, we will pay the bill then recover the costs, including staff time in carrying out the works.
In most cases the debt is registered as a charge at the Local Land Registry.
This gives us powers similar to those of a building society or bank: the debt incurs interest and if it remains unpaid the council can sell the property.
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