Housing complaints for private tenants
The Private Sector Housing team works closely with owners, leaseholders, landlords and tenants to improve housing conditions for people living within the district.
On March 20th 2019 ,The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 came into force to make sure that rented houses and flats are ‘fit for human habitation’, which means that they are safe, healthy and free from things that could cause serious harm.
If privately rented houses and flats are not ‘fit for human habitation’, tenants can take their landlords to court and/or ask the Private Sector Housing Team to help improve living conditions.
If you are having problems with repairs in a social housing property, such as those owned by Community Housing Group, there is a different procedure to follow.
The Private Sector Housing Team can advise landlords and tenants on their responsibilities and try to resolve problems amicably, but where necessary, has powers to take appropriate enforcement action.
The courts can make the landlord carry out repairs or put right health and safety problems and can also make the landlord pay compensation to the tenant.
Typical complaints may include:
- Lack of heat and hot water
- Damp, mould and condensation.
We can investigate issues arising from any home including privately rented; housing association and owner occupied property.
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 only applies to tenants in England.
If you are in temporary accommodation or are a lodger or a property guardian, then the Homes Act 2018 may not apply to you. If you are unsure of whether you have a licence or a tenancy agreement, you can get from an organisation like Shelter or Citizens’ Advice.
You can use the Homes Act immediately if you signed your tenancy agreement contract on or after 20th March 2019, whether or not this meant you moved into a new property.
If you signed your contract before 20 March 2019, you will have to wait until 20 March 2020 before you can use the Homes Act (unless you sign a new tenancy or your tenancy becomes a monthly rolling contract).
Your landlord is responsible for fixing a lot of problems in your home. However, there are some exceptions, such as:
- Problems caused by tenant behaviour
- Repairing your possessions or furniture belonging to previous tenants
- If the landlord hasn’t been able to get permission from certain other people. For example if planning permission is required to fix the problem
Is the problem so bad that it makes your house or flat not fit to live in?
If you do go to court, you will be asked this question by the judge, and your landlord will be asked to explain why he or she doesn’t think that this is true.
Private tenants need to let their landlord know about the problem, in order to give him/her the chance to put it right.You should write to the landlord (either by text, email or letter) detailing your complaint and giving them a reasonable amount of time to action. This amount of time will depend on what the problem is and how serious it is. You must keep a copy of the complaint. A letter template is available if you need to write to your landlord on the Shelter website.
At this point you have a choice as to the action you can take;
Using the Private Sector Housing Team
If there is no action taken after two weeks and you would like the Private Sector Housing Team to help, please get in touch with us to arrange an inspection. A copy of your written complaint will be requested at this point and the landlord will be informed and invited to attend.
If appropriate an Enforcement Officer will visit your property after notifying your landlord of your complaint. It may not always be practicable to notify the landlord, as there may be emergency situations that need to acted on immediately. During this visit the property will be inspected and assessed using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
Wherever possible we try to improve the standards of the property by working with the landlord, owner or leaseholder. However in some circumstances we will take formal action. This can include:
- Hazard awareness notice to inform of the issues
- Improvement notice to require works to be undertaken within a timescale
- Prohibition notice to stop the occupation of all or part of the property
- Emergency remedial action to allow the council to do the work when a landlord is not and the works are emergency.
- Demolition order where the property is beyond repair or improvement
Homes should be maintained to a decent standard and safe to live in, and we can help make sure this happens.
Submit a complaint or enquiry and we may be able to help through professional advice, guidance, assistance or even enforcement under legislation including The Housing Act 2004.<
Using the Homes Act
You will need to write to your landlord again asking them to solve the problem. You should do this in writing by email or letter. If you go to court, you will need to show that you tried to sort out the problem with your landlord first. If you have a letting agent, send the letter or email to them too.
Your letter or email should state what needs putting right, when you reported it and if you had to report it more than once, as well as any problems you have had because of the state of your home – for example if it has made a physical or mental health condition worse.
Keep a copy of the letter and any reply you get. Your landlord might offer to make repairs or come to an agreement. This can be easier than going to court.
Guidance in available on www.gov.uk to how to start the court process. For smaller claims, you need to print and fill in form N1, which is available on www.gov.uk.
You will need to get evidence together before you go to court. Full details of the evidence required and the court process is available on www.gov.uk.