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Using the EPA to remedy poor housing conditions

This content applies to England & Wales

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA 1990) came into force on 1 January 1991 and replaced provisions found previously in the Public Health Act 1936.

Effects of housing conditions

The EPA 1990 is primarily concerned with the effects of housing conditions, rather than the housing conditions in themselves. Therefore, unlike other remedies for disrepair (such as those found under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, which require landlords to carry out repairs) there is no requirement for the problem to have resulted from any deterioration in the condition of the property. It may be more effective than other remedies in certain situations, such as where a lack of damp-proofing or insulation in buildings has had an effect on the occupier, even if damp-proofing or insulation was never provided at the property.

Statutory nuisance

The EPA 1990 can be used by local authorities, tenants, and other 'affected persons' (such as occupiers of adjoining properties) in order to remedy poor housing conditions that constitute a 'statutory nuisance'.[1] The concept of statutory nuisance has two components:

  • whether the condition of the housing is prejudicial to health or
  • whether the condition of the housing constitutes a nuisance.

Breaches of the EPA 1990 are criminal offences. Therefore, action is taken in the criminal courts, and the burden of proof is 'beyond all reasonable doubt' rather than on the 'balance of probabilities'.

[1] ss. 79-83 Environmental Protection Act 1990.


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