The Property Standards and Enforcement team regulates housing and public health conditions in private sector housing.
This is normally done through discussion and cooperation. However, it is sometimes necessary to enforce improvements through the service of statutory notices. In such cases it may be necessary for us to complete the works required and recover the costs afterwards.
We can take enforcement action against people that own, live in or rent properties. We most commonly deal with private rented properties where a tenant has contacted us for help in resolving disrepair.
We don’t usually take action against homeowners, unless:
- conditions in the property or on the land are causing a nuisance
- conditions in the property or on the land are causing damage to neighbouring property or land
- there is an issue that could affect public safety
- the property has been left empty.
Changes due to coronavirus
During the current coronavirus pandemic we are operating a reduced service. We will only be visiting properties where there is an imminent risk to health or safety, that is, where the risk posed by the issues is greater than the potential for spreading coronavirus.
- sewage in someone’s home
- structural collapse
- falling building elements, such as glass or failing walls
- pests that can spread disease
- imminent risk of fire
- carbon monoxide leaks.
In all other cases officers will try and assist you by phone or email. Officers may also need to be redeployed to help deal with the response to COVID-19. This means it will take longer to deal with your request than usual.
If an inspection is required, the officer will usually give both the tenant and landlord 24 hours’ notice. In some cases, we will serve a Notice of Intended Entry or apply to the Magistrates’ Court for a warrant to enter the property.
Action is taken to reduce or eliminate identified hazards as defined by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).
The HHSRS is the enforcement tool used to identify matters which adversely affect the health and safety of occupiers in their home.
Landlords are always notified in advance of all pending visits and the outcomes of those inspections so they may take the opportunity to attend to any identified hazards.
If enforcement action becomes necessary and a statutory notice served, the notice will not only require you as the landlord to formally carry out all identified and necessary repairs, but it will also carry a charge. This will cover expenses incurred by the council in the inspection, consideration of action to be taken and service of the notice.
The cost of this notice will then be registered as a local land charge against your property until the costs have been repaid.
Types of enforcement action
After the inspection, the officers will decide what type of action – if any – is appropriate.
These are the possible outcomes:
- No further action: Occasions where, following an initial investigation, the complaint can’t be substantiated.
- Informal action: Written warnings and/or providing advice, is usually the first option if there’s a problem and those involved are willing to cooperate.
- Formal notices: We may issue formal notices, for example, to require a landlord to carry out repairs, if the repairs:
- should have been done by law
- are urgent as there’s a risk to health and safety
- the landlord has a history of breaking the law.
- Works in default: If a formal notice is served and essential works aren’t done by a landlord, we may do them instead to ensure safety. We will then recover all the expenses from the landlord and may still decide to prosecute the landlord.
- Simple cautions/interviews under caution: If we issue a simple caution but this is ignored by the alleged offender, we will decide if other formal or informal action is needed.
Types of enforcement notices
- Demolition Order: Main provisions are still held within the Housing Act 1985, requires the demolition of the property.
- Emergency Prohibition Orders: Restrict the use of all or part of dwelling in an emergency.
- Emergency Remedial Action Notice: Works undertaken as an emergency by the council.
- Improvement Notices: A notice that requires repairs to be undertaken within a set amount of time.
- Prohibition Order: Restrict the use of whole or part of a dwelling due to serious hazards.
Any notice served under the Housing Act 2004 on or after 1 April 2017, are subject to the charges below.
- Demolition Order: £550 for property with up to 10 rooms, plus £10 per additional room.
- Emergency Prohibition Order: £550 for property with up to 10 rooms, plus £10 per additional room.
- Emergency Remedial Action Notice: £550 for property with up to 10 rooms, plus £10 per additional room.
- Improvement Notice: £550 for property with up to 10 rooms, plus £10 per additional room.
- Prohibition Order: £550 for property with up to 10 rooms, plus £10 per additional room.
- Suspended Improvement Notice, Suspended Prohibition Order, or serving copies of the review: £250 for the review and £60 for copy only.
- Works in default, for works undertaken by the council for failure to comply with an enforcement action: The cost of the works and a 17% management charge.
- Fine for enforcement action: £250.