Housing standards in rental properties
All privately rented accommodation should be safe and healthy to live in.
Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 landlords must keep a rental property in good repair and the plumbing, drains, heating and hot water in working order.
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 allows tenants whose tenancy began after 20 March 2019 to take their landlord to court if their accommodation is not fit to live in. The court can make the landlord carry out repairs and pay compensation to the tenant.
The local authority may inspect a residential property under the Housing Act 2004 if a tenant complains that a landlord has failed to respond adequately to a request for repairs, or for any other relevant reason. We inspect housing using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). This assesses 29 different hazards, including damp and mould, cold, fire, overcrowding and other dangerous or unhygienic conditions resulting from deficiencies of the property.
If we find any serious risks to tenants' or visitors' health or safety (Category 1 hazards) we are required take action. Often this is in the form of a Landlord Agreement, whereby you agree to remedy the hazard(s) within a defined timescale. If this approach is inappropriate or unsuccessful we are likely to serve an Improvement Notice. In exceptional circumstances we may take emergency remedial action ourselves, or prohibit the use of part or all of the property. We also have discretion to take certain actions on less serious (Category 2) hazards.
The council charges for the service of an Improvement Notice, Prohibition Order, or Notice of Emergency Remedial Action. The charge for 2019-2020 is £246. No fee is charged for drawing up a Landlord Agreement.
A Section 21 notice cannot be used to evict a tenant for 6 months after an improvement notice has been served. Failure to comply with a Housing Act Notice is a criminal offence and may result in prosecution or a civil penalty.