If the condition of rented housing is affecting your health or safety, the council's environmental health inspectors could help.
When to complain
It's usually best to tell your landlord about problems with the condition of your home before you contact environmental health. Your landlord might fix the problem.
How to contact environmental health
The environmental health team is part of your local council.
Find your local council website on Gov.uk and search for the right team.
Environmental health may be part of another department like housing standards, housing advice or housing enforcement.
Ask the council to inspect your home using Shelter's template letter.
Environmental health inspections
The council should arrange a visit to inspect your home. This is sometimes called a HHSRS or hazard assessment.
The inspection should happen quickly if there's 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 urgent.
What environmental health checks
The council's inspection checks for a range of hazards including:
- damp, condensation and mould growth
- pests and vermin infestations
- broken glass, falling plaster or dangerous stairs
- unsafe gas or electrical installations
- problems with sewage
After an environmental health inspection
Following the inspection, the council decides if it needs to take action:
Less serious problems
The council may serve a hazard awareness notice on your landlord.
This identifies the problem and states what should be done to fix it. The notice doesn't provide timescales for the work to be completed.
If your home contains hazards which are a serious risk to your health and safety, the council might serve an improvement notice on your landlord.
- what the problem is and what repairs or improvements are needed
- when the work should start and finish
Sometimes the council will do the work themselves and charge the landlord.
The council can take emergency action and carry out repairs if there is an immediate risk of serious harm.
If conditions are very bad, the council might make a prohibition order. This stops all or part of the property being used or lived in until improvements are carried out.
If you're told you must leave your home because it's not safe to live in:
Environmental health can inspect your home but the council can't take action against itself. If the inspection shows that there are serious hazards in your home you can:
- complain to the housing department
- consider legal action
An environmental health report can be useful to let your housing department know what work is needed to make your home safe.
Risk of revenge eviction
Some private landlords will take steps to evict their tenants rather than do repair work.
You may be protected from a 'revenge eviction' in the short-term if you have an assured shorthold tenancy which started or was renewed on or after 1 October 2015.
You're protected if the council gives your landlord either of the following:
- improvement notice
- emergency remedial action notice
Your landlord won't be able to give you a section 21 notice for at least 6 months.
If they've already given you a section 21 notice after you complained in writing about repairs, then the notice will become invalid and they can't use it to evict you.
Last updated 20 Dec 2017 | © Shelter
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