Complain to environmental health about rented housing

If the condition of rented housing is affecting your health or safety, the council's environmental health inspectors could help.

When to complain

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.

How to tell a private landlord about problems in your home

Report problems to the council or a housing association

How to contact environmental health

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.

Use the search to find details of your local council.

The team may be part of another section like housing standards, housing advice or housing enforcement.

When you contact the council, tell them:

  • what the problem is
  • the ages of everyone living in your home
  • if anyone affected has a serious illness or disability

Ask the council to inspect your home using Shelter's template letter.

What to expect

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.

An inspection by environmental health is usually free.

They can charge for dealing with pests and vermin in your home.

What environmental health checks

The council's environmental health inspection checks 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.

Find out more about health and safety standards for your home.

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.

How environmental health can help

You can complain to your local council if you are a private tenant or 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 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 environmental health report can be useful to let your housing department know what work is needed to make your home safe.

Find out how to complain about an unsafe home.

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.

Find out more if you are worried about revenge eviction.

Get advice from Shelter

Get advice from Shelter about complaining to environmental health.

Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre.

Contact a Shelter adviser online or by phone.

Last updated 08 Jan 2016 | © Shelter

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