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Enforcing standards in rented housing

We handle complaints from tenants about issues with:

  • the condition of their rented property
  • their landlord
  • their letting agent.

We try to resolve these issues informally, without using legal means. If this approach fails, our Housing Enforcement Policy sets out the legal powers we can use.

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What to do about problems in rented housing

If you suspect a property does not meet housing standards, we can investigate this.

Contact us if you have issues with your rented property, landlord or agent.

Enforcement of the Housing Health and Safety Hazard Rating System

We are required to use the Health and Housing Health and Safety Hazard Rating System (HHSRS). This is the basis for tackling the worst housing conditions.

If there are hazards present in a property that represent a danger to health, we may use our powers to reduce this. If these hazards represent a serious danger, we have a duty to take action.

Our process for investigating housing conditions

We will begin with a risk assessment and may inspect the property if it's necessary.

Occasionally, we will decide to move from advising a landlord or agent to taking formal action. To do this we'll consider:

  • risks to the tenants or members of the public
  • the impact on environment and amenity
  • the landlord’s actions/inaction
  • the landlord's commitment to resolving the issues promptly
  • how long it has been since the landlord/agent was first informed

Our officers will then make a decision on what the best course of action is for each given case.

We always try to negotiate with landlords to make changes in their properties. Sometimes, this doesn't work or changes aren't made. In these cases, we immediately serve legal notices. These notices include:

  • hazard awareness notice – these advise landlords of what they should do to improve their property
  • improvement notices – these instruct that landlords carry out specific works within a timeframe (for example, making sure they install a fixed form of heating within a month)
  • emergency remedial action – these are works we carry out in default of the landlord carrying out the required improvements
  • prohibition order, or emergency prohibition order – these ensure that no one can live in a property until improvements have been carried out
  • demolition order/clearance order – the last remedy to be used, they are rarely used by councils

What happens if landlords/agents don't comply?

The Housing Act 2004 and Housing and Planning Act 2016 gives us powers to deal with rogue landlords. Failure to comply with these notices is a criminal offence and can result in us:

  • issuing the landlord with a Civil Penalty Notice (fine) of up to £30,000 per offence
  • prosecuting the landlord in court which can result in an unlimited fine and a criminal conviction

We also have the authority to issue Civil Penalty fines or prosecute landlords/agents without serving any legal notices.

Banning orders and database of rogue landlords and property agents

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 gave councils powers to deal with rogue landlords. These include Banning Orders, which prevent landlords or agents from letting properties. It also includes a national database of rogue landlords and agents. This includes people:

  • convicted of a banning order offence
  • who've received two or more relevant financial penalties.

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