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Housing in poor condition

run down house

There are minimum standards that apply to all private rented housing, in order to avoid housing in poor condition. These ensure homes are safe to live in, warm, energy efficient, and do not cause harm or illness to the occupiers. The 2004 Housing Act gives us the power to enforce these standards in South Cambridgeshire, and both environmental health and housing teams work to ensure that homes in the private rented sector meet the required standards, and can take enforcement action against landlords who do not meet these standards.


Landlord responsibilities

The landlord is normally responsible for:

  • ensuring hazards in the home are minimised or eliminatedboiler
  • the structure of the property
  • the exterior of the building, including the roof, guttering, chimneys, plaster work, walls, windows, and doors
  • making sure equipment for supplying utilities is kept in good condition. This includes pipes supplying gas, electricity or water, flues (for example, for gas boilers) and ventilation, and drain.s
  • 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, and 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.


water droplets trickling down a window

The landlord is responsible for damp if:

  • it is caused by a structural defect
  • the home lacks damp proofing
  • there is a leak
  • condensation is being caused by inadequate insulation, heating, or ventilation

The landlord may not be responsible if the damp is caused by condensation due to lifestyle choices, for example if you:

  • dry your clothes indoors
  • use unventilated tumble driers
  • do not open windows for ventilation
  • do not use the heating system correctly 

In these circumstances, you 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 set levels of fire resistance for all new and second hand furniture in let accommodation. 

If you require further advice, contact Trading Standards

Report a problem

A woman making a phone callIf 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 the health and environmental services team.

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 serious, we can take legal action. 

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

Sometimes we may carry out works required by others to do, also known as '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 will incur interest and if it remains unpaid, the council can sell the property.

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