How to complain about an unsafe home

If you are a private, council or housing association tenant, find out what you can do if your rented home isn't safe or healthy to live in.

Hazards that make your home unsafe

A hazard is a problem that could harm the health or safety of someone living in your home. Homes should be free of serious risks.

Common hazards include:

Health and safety risks in the home are assessed using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

There are additional health and safety requirements for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

These are shared homes containing multiple households such as bedsits, shared student housing and hostels.

Report hazards to your landlord

If you’re worried about hazards in your home, you should report them to your landlord immediately.

Your landlord is responsible for most repairs in your home after you’ve told them about it. Give them a reasonable amount of time to do the work. 

Find out how to report repairs to a:

Complain to environmental health

You can complain to the council’s environmental health team about hazards in your home.

An environmental health officer should arrange a visit to carry out an assessment of any hazards in your home if you ask. 

Hazards are rated according to how serious they are and how likely they are to affect someone’s health and safety.

Category 1 hazards are the most serious. Examples include:

  • Exposed wiring
  • A dangerous or broken boiler
  • Rats, pests or other infestations
  • Damp and mould on the walls or ceiling

You can also ask the council to inspect a neighbouring property if it affects your health and safety.

What environmental health can do

What action environmental health can take depends on how serious the problem is and who your landlord is.

Private and housing association tenants

The council’s environmental health team must take action if it finds any category 1 hazards in your home and you're living in private rented housing or a housing association home.

They can order your landlord to do repairs or make improvements. Your landlord could be prosecuted and fined if they don’t.

Environmental health can also take emergency remedial action if it thinks you are at serious risk of harm. The council can do the work needed and charge your landlord for the work.

For less serious hazards, environmental health could give your landlord notice that it's aware of the problem and provide advice on how to solve it.

Tell them if your landlord doesn’t improve the conditions in your home. You can ask them to take further action.

Council tenants

If you rent from the council, environmental health can’t take any action against your landlord.

They can tell your housing office what needs to be done to fix any hazards in your home.

Complain to your council or housing association formally

Council and housing association tenants can make a formal complaint to their landlord if they don't do the repairs or works needed.

If you're not happy with how your complaint is handled, you can complain to the Housing Ombudsman.

Still need advice?

Contact a Shelter adviser online, by phone or in person

Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre


Last updated 14 Jun 2018 | © Shelter

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