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Complain to environmental health about private rented housing

Environmental health is part of your local council.

They look into serious repair problems that affect your health or put you at risk.

You might want to complain to the council if your landlord or letting agent:  

  • ignore you when you report repair problems

  • do not fix things in a reasonable time

Environmental health can:

  • tell your landlord to do repairs

  • give your landlord a legal notice to make them fix things

Some private landlords try to evict tenants who ask for repairs.

But you could have protection from section 21 revenge eviction in some situations.

Tell your landlord about the problem

You need to do this before you contact the council.

Make sure you keep evidence of:

  • conversations, messages or emails

  • how bad the problem is, for example photos or reports from surveyors

Find out how to report repair problems.

Contact the private rented housing team

Most councils have a private rented housing team. 

They are usually your first point of contact as a tenant.

They can speak to your landlord if you give them permission.

They can refer you to environmental health if the problem is serious.

You can usually find contact details in the housing section of the council's website.

Keep records of your contact

Councils can be slow to respond. Keep trying.

Ask them about timings and what their next steps will be.

Get the name of anyone you speak to on the phone.

The council should inspect serious problems

They will usually tell your landlord if they plan to visit.

They might visit more than once. Sometimes they will send someone to look at the situation before they get a specialist to do an environmental health inspection.

Use our template to ask for an inspection

Copy our sample text into an email:

I am a tenant at [your address].

My landlord is [your landlord or letting agent’s name].

I wrote to them about repairs needed on [dates].

[Give details of the repair problem]

I allowed a reasonable time for my landlord to do the repairs, but they have not done them.

I'm concerned the repair problems are affecting my health and safety, and the health and safety of the people who live with me.

My landlord’s details are [your landlord or agent’s address and number].

Please arrange to visit my home and carry out an inspection under the Housing, Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

You can also send the template as an attachment or by post:

Actions the council might take

Only some actions will protect you against section 21 eviction.

Notices that protect against section 21 eviction

The council could give your landlord an:

  • improvement notice

  • emergency remedial action notice

An improvement notice tells your landlord how to fix things and gives them a deadline to do it.

The council will usually only give an emergency remedial action notice if you or someone who lives with you is very seriously at risk of harm.

The council must give you a copy of the notice within 7 days.

You will not be protected from section 21 eviction if the council suspend or withdraw their notice.

Other actions the council can take

The council could:

  • give your landlord a hazard awareness notice

  • contact your landlord to talk about the problem

  • take no action if they do not think the problem is serious

You are not be protected from section 21 eviction in these situations.

But your section 21 notice might not be valid for other reasons.

Complain if the council does not visit or act

Ask for a copy of their:

  • housing enforcement policy

  • complaints process

Check they have followed their own policy.

If not, use their complaints process.

Find out more about how to complain about the council.

Complain to the ombudsman

You can complain to the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman if:

  • you've already complained to the council about their actions

  • you're not happy with the council's final response

Tell the ombudsman if the council did not follow their housing enforcement policy or complaints process.

You can also contact your local councillor or MP.

Last updated: 7 June 2023

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