Complain to Environmental Health about Rented Housing
Houses in multiple occupation (HMO)
Check if you need a licence and apply.
If your property is a HMO you may need a licence to rent it out. A separate licence is required for each property. You must also reapply if your licence has expired.
You should apply even if you are unsure as you may be fined if you don't have a reasonable excuse.
Changes to HMO licensing
From 1 October 2018 the rules around HMO licensing will change.
If your property is a HMO you may need a licence to rent it out, regardless of how many storeys the property has.
A separate licence will be required for each property.
Mandatory HMO licence - from 1 October 2018 a landlord must apply for a licence for a privately rented HMO if the property being rented out:
- is occupied by five or more people
- those people form two or more households
- tenants share some amenities like kitchen, bathroom or laundry.
Purpose built apartment blocks consisting of three or more apartments will not require a licence.
If the condition of rented housing is affecting your health or safety, the council's environmental health inspectors could help.
When to complain
It's usually best to tell your landlord about problems with the condition of your home before you contact environmental health. Your landlord might fix the problem.
Find out how to:
- tell a private landlord about problems in your home
- report problems if you're a council or housing association tenant
How to contact environmental health
The environmental health team is part of your local council. Environmental health may be part of another department like housing standards, housing advice or housing enforcement.
Find your local council website on Gov.uk and search for the right team.
Ask the council to inspect your home using Shelter's template letter.
Environmental health inspections
The council should arrange a visit to inspect your home. This is sometimes called a HHSRS or hazard assessment.
The inspection should happen quickly if there's a serious risk of harm to you or your family.
You might have to wait longer for an inspection at busy times of the year or if the disrepair problems are less urgent.
What environmental health checks
The council's inspection checks for a range of hazards including:
- damp, condensation and mould growth
- pests and vermin infestations
- broken glass, falling plaster or dangerous stairs
- unsafe gas or electrical installations
- problems with sewage
After an environmental health inspection
Following the inspection, the council decides if it needs to take action. It can:
Send a hazard awareness notice
The council may serve a hazard awareness notice on your landlord.
This identifies the problem and states what should be done to fix it. The notice doesn't provide timescales for the work to be completed.
Send an improvement notice
If your home contains hazards which are a serious risk to your health and safety, the council might serve an improvement notice on your landlord.
- what the problem is and what repairs or improvements are needed
- when the work should start and finish
Sometimes the council will do the work themselves and charge the landlord.
Carry out emergency repairs
The council can take emergency action and carry out repairs if there is an immediate risk of serious harm.
If conditions are very bad, the council might make a prohibition order. This stops all or part of the property being used or lived in until improvements are carried out.
If you're told you must leave your home because it's not safe to live in:
Environmental health can inspect your home but they can't take action against the council.
If the inspection shows that there are serious hazards in your home you can:
- complain to the housing department
- consider legal action
An environmental health report can tell the housing department the work that is needed to make your home safe.
Risk of revenge eviction
Some private landlords will take steps to evict their tenants rather than do repair work.
You may have some protection from a 'revenge eviction' if you have an assured shorthold tenancy.
You're only protected if the council gives your landlord either of the following:
- improvement notice
- emergency work notice
Your landlord won't be able to give you a section 21 notice for at least 6 months.
You’ll also be protected from eviction if they gave you a section 21 notice between the time of your written complaint and the council issuing an improvement or emergency work notice.