Complain to environmental health about housing standards

If you are worried that poor conditions in rented housing could affect your health or safety, the council's environmental health inspectors could help.

How to ask the council for help

An environmental health inspection should identify the cause of health and safety problems in your home. 

Contact the environmental health team at your local council. The team may be part of another section like housing standards, housing advice or housing enforcement. 

Use's search to find details of your local council.

There may be a reporting form on your council's website. Or you may find contact details of the department you can write to, phone or email.

It is usually best to tell your landlord about problems with the condition of your home before contacting the council. Your landlord might fix the problem.

What environmental health can do

If you are a private renter or are a housing association tenant and there's a risk to your health or safety in the home, the council can decide to:

  • order your landlord to carry out repairs or improvements – they'll serve your landlord with an improvement notice
  • do the repairs itself and charge your landlord for the work

When conditions are very bad, the council can:

  • make a prohibition order – this restricts access to all or part of your home or restricts the number of people who can live there
  • order the demolition of the property

In less serious cases, the council can serve a hazard notice to make your landlord aware of the problem.

If you are a council tenant, an enviromental health report can be useful to let your housing department know what work is needed to make your home safe.

What environmental health checks 

The council can do an environmental health inspection to see if your home contains serious health or safety hazards.

Hazards the council checks for include:

  • damp, condensation and mould growth
  • rats, cockroaches or other pests and vermin
  • broken glass, falling plaster or dangerous stairs
  • unsafe gas or electrical installations
  • problems with sewage

If an environmental health officer visits your home, they check if the problems you have also affect your neighbours' homes.

What to tell the council

When you contact the council, tell them:

  • what the problem is
  • your age and the ages of other people you live with
  • if anyone affected has a serious illness or disability

Use Shelter's template letter to write to ask the council to inspect your home.

How soon the council should respond

The council should visit to inspect your home quickly if there is a serious risk of harm to you or your family .

You might have to wait longer for an inspection at busy times of the year or if the disrepair problems are less serious.

The inspection is usually free but there can be charges for certain services, such as getting rid of pests and vermin in your home.

Report problems to your landlord before you complain

Find out how to tell your private landlord about problems in  your home.

Find out how to report problems if you rent from the council or a housing association.

Damp and mould problems

Environmental health can take action against landlords when health and safety is at risk because of problems with damp and mould.

Environmental health can also advise tenants if there's action they can take to help improve the situation.

Risk of eviction for private tenants

There's a risk that your private landlord could take steps to evict you rather than do repair work. Some tenants with tenancies starting after 1 October 2015 may have some legal protection.

Further advice from Shelter

Call our free advice helpline on 0808 800 4444 or contact a Shelter advice centre, Citizens Advice, or other local advice centres.

Use Shelter's directory to find advice services in your area.


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