Our Housing Standards Team has powers to deal with poor housing conditions. When we become aware of a hazard, we will first talk to the owner/landlord to try and get them to reduce the risk in a reasonable time. Where improvements are not made within a reasonable time period, we may take formal action to deal with Category 1 hazards and high Category 2 hazards.
We will make sure that the requirements of the housing legislation are met through:-
- Informal action eg a letter or telephone conversation with schedule of works
- Formal action
- Any appropriate notice with a schedule of works
The types of formal action will be dependent on how serious the case is and may include:-
- Serve a hazard awareness notice
- Serve an improvement notice (the most common formal action taken)
- Make a prohibition order
- Take emergency remedial (corrective) action
- Make an emergency prohibition order
- Make a demolition order
- Declare a clearance area
Notices will incur charges for officer time. Please see our fees and charges page for more information.
The notices/orders will be registered as a local land charge, and will affect the future sale of the property if not removed. All parties with an interest in the property will be informed. This includes mortgage companies and may affect your ability to make builder/householder insurance claims. Where works can and have been completed, we will revoke (take back) the notice/order formally in writing if we are satisfied that the hazards have been removed or significantly reduced.
We will not take more than one of these actions at one time, unless it is an emergency action. All notices and orders will include a statement of reason, detailing why this particular enforcement action was taken.
What happens if an owner/landlord wants to appeal against formal action?
There is a right of appeal against any formal notice, order or decision made by the Council. All appeals should be made to a First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber - Residential Property) and must be made within a
specified time from the date the notice was served. Tribunals are informal
bodies and do not operate like courts. They will hear cases presented by each side. The Tribunal may confirm, cancel or change the notice, order or decision.
A hazard awareness notice informs the owner/landlord that a hazard requires attention but further formal action is unlikely to be taken unless conditions worsen or further hazards arise. A Hazard Awareness Notice will not appear on the Register of Local Land Charges. There is no appeal against a Hazard Awareness Notice.
An Improvement Notice will require works to be carried out within a defined period of time to remove a category 1 or category 2 hazard. If the works are not carried out the Council may prosecute the person responsible for not complying with the notice and/or carry out the works itself and recharge the owner.
A Prohibition Order prevents the use of all or part of a property until such time as works are carried out to remove the hazards identified, however, the Order will not specify a time period for them to be carried out. It is an offence to occupy a property in contravention of a Prohibition Order.
In extreme cases the Council may take urgent action to deal with hazards presenting an immediate risk to the health and safety of the occupiers by either prohibiting the use of the property (Emergency Prohibition Order) or by carrying out urgent repairs itself (Emergency Remedial Action). The local authority will seek to recover any costs it incurs as a result of emergency action from the owner.
Demolition Orders and Clearance Areas
The Council has powers to order the demolition of dwellings with category 1 or category 2 hazards present, however, it is very rare for these powers to be considered for most properties that we come across in the Borough.