Standards expected for private sector tenants
All rented properties must meet certain standards to make them habitable. The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) aims to ensure that your home doesn’t have any serious hazards, and enables a council to take action against landlords whose properties are dangerous.
If conditions in your home are bad, they could put your health at risk or cause a serious nuisance to neighbours or the public. In situations like these, the council’s environmental health department may be able to help.
The HHSRS assesses faults in your home and how they might affect your health and safety. The HHSRS considers how likely it is that a hazard would occur and how serious the outcome would be. It covers problems in communal areas and outside spaces as well as inside the house.
Dangerous things taken into account include:
- dampness, condensation, and mould growth
- rats, cockroaches and other vermin infestations
- broken glass, falling plaster, or dangerous or decaying stairs
- faulty or dangerous gas or electrical installations
- blocked drains or problems with rubbish or sewage
- unacceptable noise levels
- damaged asbestos
- smoke fumes or gases
If you live in a house in multiple occupation (HMO), there are also limits on the number of people who can live in the property. The number of people allowed to live there depends on the number and location of cooking, washing and toilet facilities. The property must also meet fire safety standards.
You should report any problems to your landlord in writing, and allow a reasonable time for them to be fixed. The time needed will depend on the urgency of the problem. If the landlord does nothing, you could send a second letter, warning that you will contact the environmental health department if the repairs are not done by a certain deadline.
If you report the situation to the environmental health department, an officer should come to inspect your home. If they decide that your home includes a serious hazard, they have to take action. They can do this by:
- issuing a hazard awareness notice – this warns the landlord that the council is aware of the problem
- giving your landlord an improvement notice, ordering the landlord to carry out certain repairs or improvements by a certain time
- ordering the closure of all or part of a building or restricting the number of people who live in the property
- taking emergency action to do the repairs themselves and reclaim the costs from the landlord
- making an order to demolish the property
- buying the property from the landlord under the compulsory purchase rules
If the council identifies minor repair issues in your house, they do not have to take action. However, they can decide to enforce the improvements, to avoid future problems.
Please contact Environmental Health, Lichfield District Council, District Council House, Frog Lane, Lichfield, Staffordshire WS13 6YY or phone 01543 308000. Office hours are Monday to Friday 8.45pm to 5.15pm.