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Safety in private rented accommodation

Introduction

The government have produced a series of booklets which aim to help landlords rent safe housing to their tenants. They have also produced a booklet for tenants that provides information on what their rights are. Please see the document links below.

The council's role

It is a priority of the council to raise housing standards in the rented sector as we have a duty to ensure minimum health and safety standards are achieved across the borough.

As a tenant, you need to write to your landlord or letting agent as soon as you find you have a problem and ask them to repair the faults you have found. If this fails and your landlord does not respond to your complaint, we may be able to help. You can get in touch with us about the problems you are having by using the contact details at the bottom of this page.

If you have to contact us, you can talk to an officer about your concerns.

Normally the officer will write to the landlord/owner, listing the faults the tenant believes to exist in the home. The letter provides the landlord/owner with 42 days to repair the issues provided on the list. At this stage the action is informal only and the owner is not charged for the service of the defects letter.

If, after 42 days, repairs haven't started or there is no major progress, there are a range of enforcement options available, such as:

  • Hazard Awareness Notices;
  • Improvement Notices;
  • Emergency Remedial Action;
  • Prohibition Orders;
  • Demolition Notices.

There is a charge of £422 for all notices served.

Housing Act 2004

Duty to provide a safe home

If an officer comes to inspect your home, they will use guidance provided under the Housing Act 2004, called the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

HHSRS lists 29 separate hazards and an investigating officer will use the guidance to assess if the property has any Category 1 or high-level Category 2 hazards (i.e. the most serious hazards). Consideration will also be given to:

  • how the family, visitor(s) or any other person who enters the home may be affected; and
  • whether the hazard is very bad now or likely to get worse over the next 12 months.

St Helens Borough Council has its own enforcement protocol, which states that if any one of five particular hazards are present, the officer must take enforcement action. These are:

  1. excess cold;
  2. entry by intruders;
  3. falls;
  4. fire;
  5. carbon monoxide.

Please refer to the enforcement policy.

Civil penalties guidance

Local housing authorities have the power to impose civil penalties of up to £30,000 on individuals and companies for certain specified offences under the Housing Act 2004 as an alternative to prosecution.

In accordance with S249A of the 2004 Act, the amount of the financial penalty will be determined by the local housing authority.

Please read the civil penalties guidance for further information. This document has been provided to ensure that a level playing field is created for all landlords by dealing robustly with irresponsible landlords who fail to comply with their legal obligations.

Legal requirements

Tenant documentation

It is now a legal requirement for a landlord or agent to provide all tenants (new or renewed) with a tenancy pack which includes copies of:

  • a current Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) (read the EPC tenants booklet)
  • a current Gas Safety Certificate (read the Gas Safety leaflet)
  • the Right to Rent booklet (access the Gov.uk website).

A landlord or agent who fails to provide the above information cannot legally issue the tenant with a S21 eviction notice.

Gas safety is a serious issue and if you wish to check the qualifications of a gas engineer or you would like any advice on gas safety issues, please visit the Gas Safe website.

Further advice relating to gas safety in the private rented sector is also available from Shelter, the housing and homeless charity.

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came into effect on 1 October 2015 and all landlords must now fit at least one smoke alarm on every floor of their property.

They must also provide and fit a carbon monoxide alarm in any room that has a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire, wood-burning stove).

Landlords must also make sure smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in working order at the start of every new tenancy.

The new regulations are enforced by the local authority and our officers will be able to impose fines (of up to £5,000) on a landlord who fails to comply with a notice we send to him/her that instructs them to supply and fit working alarms in their property.

Please read each of the following leaflets to see how these changes will affect you:

  • Statement of Principles for Monetary Penalty Charges and how the regulations will be enforced;
  • The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015: Q&A booklet for the private rented sector;
  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.

Landlords should be aware that the regulations do not contain all the fire safety requirements that their premises may be subject to. There are fire safety requirements under other legislation that may be applicable, such as under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

How to get in touch with us

If you would like to contact us by telephone or e-mail, please use the details below. Alternatively, you can use the online contact request form.

If you have any comments about our housing enforcement policy, please let us know using the e-mail address below.

You can contact our private sector housing team directly using our online form: Make an enquiry

If you need to contact us urgently you can call us on - 01744 676789