Regulation and enforcement of housing standards
Housing can have a big impact on people’s physical and mental health and on children’s development and life opportunities. Homes may contain hazards which are sometimes hard to recognise. The Council has a mandatory legal duty to apply the Housing Health and safety Rating System introduced by the Housing Act 2004. This system is applied to all housing regardless of tenure – which includes private rented, owner occupied, Council Housing, registered Social landlords (RSLs) also known as Housing Associations, and even empty homes!
Council staff will assess 29 different hazard types and consider the likelihood of an accident or ill health resulting from it, and the likely severity of that harm. They include, for example, dampness and mould, excess cold, fire, electricity, falls, asbestos, security and hygiene. Each significant hazard will be scored, any scoring 1000 or more will require the Council to take a course of action (a Council’s legal duty), but others scoring less than 1000 can still be addressed (a Council’s legal power). National enforcement guidance and our local enforcement policy will direct the Council to particular courses of action so that what we do is proportionate, transparent, consistent and fair in accordance with the principles of good enforcement in the national regulators code.
Outcomes may include;
- Informal action – verbal or written advice
- Financial assistance – direct or via signposting
- Hazard Awareness notice (HAN) – a formal note of concern but not requiring particular works
- Improvement Notice (IN) – requires specific works by a set date, which may in some circumstances be suspended
- Prohibition Order (PO) – requiring that some or all rooms or spaces cannot be occupied until made safe, which again may in some circumstances be suspended
- Emergency Remedial Action (ERA) – for extremely dangerous situations, the Council can carry out immediate safety works and recover costs
- Emergency Prohibition Order (EPO) – has the effect of a prohibition order but immediately effective for urgent situations
- Demolition Order – requires a structure to be demolished
Councils may also consider Compulsory Purchase of properties in deserving circumstances, or if they accumulate a financial charge against the owner, may instead seek Enforced Sale to recover their costs. Certain of the above notices and orders can be appealed against to a ‘First Tier Property Tribunal’, which can uphold, vary or quash the notice or parts of it. If works are not started on time or not completed to schedule, the Council can take over from the landlord and do the ‘works in default’, then recover their costs.
Notices and orders not complied with may also result in the landlord being prosecuted, and usually fined. Notices and orders may be registered as a local land charge and would be declared to any potential purchaser, and would be notified to interested parties such as mortgage lenders and co-owners or freeholders.
Last updated Wednesday, 18th May 2016