Housing standards

Part of the remit of Environmental Health is to deal with complaints from tenants about hazards in rented housing of all kinds (private and social housing), including Houses in Multiple Occupation (which are houses let as rooms or a house share where persons share amenities like the bathroom and/or the kitchen). We seek to improve standards and ensure that accommodation has risks to health and safety removed or minimised. We also endeavour to ensure that homes are suitable and safe for the number of people living there.

Assessing housing standards

We aim to improve standards of health and safety in rented properties (private and social housing) by responding to complaints from tenants about poor housing conditions and properties that may be hazardous to live in.

How we can help tenants

If you are a private or social housing tenant and concerned about the condition of your home, we can inspect the property. An assessment will be carried out and where unacceptable hazards exist, we may be able to take action. Usually this involves the owner or landlord carrying out necessary repairs or improvements.

Reporting a rental disrepair or housing standards issue to us

Before informing us of a disrepair issue, you must initially report any defects to the landlord in writing, giving them the opportunity to deal with the problem. If the matter is not corrected within a reasonable timescale, you can contact us for further assistance.

Report housing issues using the green button below. This will take you to the Council's online reporting page and please select 'Housing conditions - private rented accommodation'  from the form list. 

Report Housing Conditions in Private Rented Accommodation

How we assess housing conditions

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is a risk-based approach to identifying defects in dwellings and of evaluating the potential effect of any defects on the health and safety of occupants.

HHSRS is a risk-based approach to identifying defects in dwellings and of evaluating the potential effect of any defects on the health and safety of occupants. It looks at 29 different hazards in accommodation and provides guidance to help officers determine the real risk of actual harm from any one of them. Hazards are assessed on the likelihood of a harmful occurrence taking place in the property and the potential severity of the outcome. A formula is used to score the hazard, and this will determine the category of the hazard.

We have a duty to deal with the more serious hazards. Powers to deal with the hazards, include informal hazard awareness notices, formal improvement and prohibition notices, plus specific provisions for dealing with urgent hazards.

Dealing with complaints about rented housing

The Council deals with a variety of complaints including damp and mould, homes in disrepair, fire safety, lack of heat or hot water and overcrowding. 


If you are experiencing problems with damp and mould in your rented property then please follow the advice below before contacting your landlord as set out above.

Damp has 3 causes.


Condensation is the most common form of damp in rented properties. Condensation:

  • Appears when excess moisture in the air comes into contact with a cold surface, such as a window or a cold wall. It can lead to mould growth and tends to be worse in winter.
  • Can be caused by a tenant not ventilating or heating their home properly. Heating your home keeps the surfaces warm which in turn reduces condensation.
  • Can also be caused by poor insulation, or faulty heating and ventilation systems that are the responsibility of the landlord. 
  • Is important to use any means of ventilation that you have in your house to keep the humidity down to a reasonable level whilst also heating the home adequately. 

Controlling Condensation is all about reducing the amount of water in the air inside the home and keeping the home warm. Normal daily activities like cooking, washing, drying clothes and boiling the kettle can all add to the humidity inside so:

  • Use lids on cooking pots.
  • Keep the kitchen and or bathroom doors closed when cooking/showering and use any extract ventilation that you are provided with.
  • Keep any trickle vents open even when you have your heating on. 
  • Do not dry your clothes inside if you have any alternative. If you have no alternative then you must understand that the water from those clothes will go into the air and may reappear later as condensation. A good compromise is to dry them in e.g. a bathroom with the door closed and the window open to try and direct the water outside.
  • Make sure your tumble drier is in working order and if necessary vented to the outside air.
  • Heat the property consistently.

There may be reasons why you can not follow some of the advice above for example because your heating is inefficient or expensive and so you are unable to keep the house warm or perhaps you do not have sufficient insulation or ventilation in your home. If this is the case then you should raise these issues with your landlord as described above - seeking assistance from the Council later if you are unable to resolve matters.

Penetrating damp

This is where water has seeped in due to some other structural defect like a leaking pipe, or blown external render, missing defective pointing on brickwork.  This shows up as brown patches where the water has come through the structure and as above may also have associated mould.

Rising damp

This is where a damp proof course is defective or missing and water seeps up from the ground into the property.  It is usually characterised by a tidemark like brown line at low level on the outside walls.  This could also be accompanied by black mould and or defective/blown plaster and/or white powder on the surface.


Where mould already exists then you can treat it with  proprietary anti mould spray (from a hardware store) but it will return if you do not deal with the reason that it was able to form in the first place that is by addressing any issues of high humidity or poor heating/ventilation/insulation.

Report housing standards

Retaliatory eviction

This is a real issue which some tenants can experience. It describes a situation where a landlord issues an eviction notice when a tenant makes a complaint, to avoid being required to undertake works. In order to be offered some protection from this by the law you should ensure that you follow the following guidance.

You must, unless you have good reason, complain to your landlord in writing either by letter, text or email. You should set out the issues that you are concerned about, the effect that the issues are having on your family and if you know, what you would like the landlord to do about it. You should ask for an answer from your landlord, in writing explaining what his/her intentions are to investigate or act and you should set out a time frame within which he/she should respond to you. e.g. "Please let me know by DATE, what you intend to do to investigate/resolve these issues"  You should ensure that your timeframe is realistic based on the real priority of the issue.

If your landlord fails to respond or provides a response that you are not satisfied with, then you can contact us for further assistance.  If you have followed this procedure and the Council then serves a statutory notice (not including a Hazard Awareness Notice) you can be protected from any eviction notice that your landlord issues for a period of time.

Failure to follow this procedure could affect your security in the premises

Landlords and agents

Government guidance for landlords on the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (Gov.UK)

As a landlord and/or agent acting on behalf of the landlord of rented accommodation you are expected to keep the premises in a safe and habitable condition. As you will see from the guidance, the HHSRS explains that just because a property was designed or built in a certain way does not exempt you from improving it if the particular deficiencies have a health impact on your tenant.  You are also expected to respond to your tenants complaints in a reasonable manner and to do what is reasonable/ practical to remove hazards.  If your tenant approaches Environmental Health and following an inspection the officer considers that the service of one of the above notices is the best course of action (excluding a hazard awareness notice), then such action will be taken.

Any action taken by us will be in accordance with the Council's Housing Enforcement Policy.


If, having been served with an enforcement notice and you do not comply then the Council will consider what further action will be taken. This can include any of the following courses of action,

  • Prosecution in the Magistrates Court: a conviction would lead to a fine which can in respect of some offences be unlimited or


  • Issuing a Simple caution: accepting a caution is an admission of guilt without a prosecution.  If a landlord is offered and accepts a caution then they will not be prosecuted for this offence but it could be taken into account if any further court proceedings are taken in connection with other matters.  If a landlord is offered and refuses a caution then they will be prosecuted because the Council will not offer a caution unless they feel that they have sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction in the Magistrates Court.


  • Carrying out of the works in default; this means doing the work required by the notice, billing you for it and recovering the contractor and Council costs plus interest from you.