Our Private Housing team check the conditions of private rented accommodations, with the goal to:
- improve private sector housing conditions.
- promote healthy and safe housing
For a full explanation of our responsibilities and functions, please view our Housing Enforcement Policy.
Housing Health and Safety rating system
The House Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) assists local authorities in targeting properties in the worst condition, often housing some of the most vulnerable people.
Under this system, action by authorities is based on a three-stage consideration:
- the hazard rating determined under HHSRS;
- whether the authority has a duty or power to act, determined by the presence of a hazard above or below a threshold prescribed by Regulations [Category 1 and Category 2 hazards]; and
- the authority's judgement as to the most appropriate course of action to deal with the hazard
The Act contains enforcement options which are available to local authorities. The choice of the appropriate course of action is for the authority to decide, having regard to statutory enforcement guidance.
Hazards which have to be assessed
- Damp/Mould Growth
- Excess Heat
- Not combustible fuel gas
- Domestic Hygiene, pests and refuse
- Hot surfaces
- Excess Heat
- Personal Hygiene, sanitation and drainage
- Electrical hazards
- Structural collapse and falling elements
- Volatile Organic Compounds
- Food Safety
- Collisions and Entrapment
- Crowding and Space
- Water Supply
- Carbon monoxide
- Entry by Intruders
- Position and operability of amenities
The courses of action available to authorities where they have either a duty or a power to act are to:
- serve an improvement notice requiring remedial works;
- make a prohibition order, which closes the whole or part of a dwelling or restricts the number of permitted occupants;
- suspend these types of notice;
- take emergency action;
- serve a hazard awareness notice;
- make a demolition order
- declare a clearance area
The HHSRS hazard rating is based on the most vulnerable potential occupant.
The Act retains the powers available to authorities to act in default and prosecute for lack of compliance. It also enables them to recover charges for enforcement actions.
Rent Repayment Orders
A Rent Repayment Order (RRO) is a financial penalty that can be imposed upon a landlord who manages or lets a property which ought to be licensed under the Housing Act and is not licensed.
An application may be made to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) for an order if the landlord has been convicted of the offence of operating a licensed property without a licence or the local authority is satisfied the offence has been committed (even though the landlord has not been prosecuted for offence).
The First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) may make an order if it is satisfied that the landlord has been convicted of the offence or that he has committed it.
The local authority may apply for an order where housing benefit has been paid to that landlord during any period when such an offence was being committed. Different rules apply to decisions in respect of those applications depending on whether the landlord has been convicted of the offence.
Occupiers (including former occupiers) are also permitted to make an application to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) for a repayment order where an order has already been granted to a local authority in respect of the same property or where the landlord has been convicted of the offence. Any order made in favour of an occupier cannot relate to any sums paid by means of Housing Benefit. Any sum ordered to be paid is recoverable as an ordinary civil debt.