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Poor Conditions in Private Sector Housing

The condition of housing is assessed using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

Where privately rented housing is in a poor condition, the council will work with landlords, using enforcement action where necessary, to improve it.

If you rent your home from a private landlord and it is in a poor state or repair, is unsafe or has insufficient kitchens or bathrooms, the council can help you.

You can contact environmental health if your home is unsatisfactory because:

  • it is damp, cold, or the roof leaks 
  • the drains are blocked 
  • the windows are broken or rotten 
  • a gas fire or water heater makes you feel unwell or has soot marks 
  • electric sockets are blackened or blow frequently 
  • there is other disrepair that affects you 
  • the gas, electricity or water has been cut off because the landlord has not paid the bill 
  • there are fall or other hazards

If you live in a shared house, bedsit, or hostel you should also call environmental health if:

  • there are no fire doors or the fire doors are wedged open or obstructed, or the fire alarm is not maintained 
  • your accommodation is very cramped or overcrowded 
  • the shared parts of the house are unsafe 
  • there are not enough bathrooms, toilets or kitchens 
  • you think the property may need a House in Multiple Occupation Licence

 

Getting the problem solved

 You should tell your landlord first, but if they do not do the repairs you should call the environmental health service.

An environmental health officer will respond within one to three working days, depending on the risk posed by the problem, and arrange to visit you if necessary. They will identify the defect(s) and decide what action they can take, if any.

The officer will contact your landlord if there are significant hazards or disrepair which could cause harm. 

In some cases where the house is shared, in bedsits, or is a hostel and five or more people live there, and the building has three or more storeys, your landlord will need to apply for a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licence.

 Your landlord will be given an opportunity to carry out the repair work within a specified period of time, unless the conditions threaten your health. A legal notice will usually be served where there is a threat to health, or where the landlord does not carry out the works voluntarily. The notice will state that works are needed and a time period for completion. A copy of the notice will be sent to you.

In some cases the owner may request an extension of time. This will be granted if the owner is taking steps to solve the problem and there is a genuine reason for the delay. The owner may carry out different works to those on the notice; this is acceptable providing the council agrees they will solve the problem.

If the time allowed for the works expires and no works have been done, the owner will be given a final warning. If the works are still not done the council will take legal action against the owner, which can result in a fine. In cases where there is a threat to health, the council will usually carry out the works on behalf of the owner and charge the cost of the works, plus an administration charge, to the owner. 

Please note: the council is only able to offer the above service to private tenants. Owner-occupiers and long leaseholders should seek legal advice.

For more information contact Environmental Health on 01799 510482 or email environmentalhealth@uttlesford.gov.uk.

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