The Council’s Community Protection Team monitor standards in the private sector housing, this included privately rented properties, Housing Association properties and owner occupied properties. The team uphold and enforce the standards contained in the Housing Act 2004 and other property and public health related legislation. The team try hard to work with landlords, owners and tenants and only use enforcement in line with the Council’s Enforcement Policy.
Where enforcement is used there are a number of levels of enforcement and enforcement tools available from initial conversations and informal letters to court actions and Banning Orders to remove criminal landlords from operating. They tools used depend on a number of things including the severity of the issue, level of co-operations etc. as described in the Enforcement Policy. Each case is taken on its own merits.
Officers carrying out enforcement functions have been authorised by the council in accordance with the Council’s scheme of Delegation. Each officer within Community Protection will carry an identification card.
The private sector housing service offers an opportunity to work informally with landlords, agents, owners and service users, by providing a range of information and guidance. In cases where there has been a complaint and where it is the first contact about property standards, the service will normally notify responsible parties and/or will provide an inspection report outlining breaches in legal requirements.
The purpose of this is to enable responsible landlords, agents and owners to comply with regulatory requirements and agree to undertake the works required by the authority in a short timescale.
The underlying aim of these communications is to establish good management practices from the outset that ensure compliance with regulatory requirements for property standards and that this approach continues through each subsequent tenancy.
Enforcement action can be separated into 3 stages, as outlined below. Decisions will be made by competent and authorised officers, in accordance with guidance, as to the most appropriate course of action to be taken.
Different types of enforcement action may be undertaken in relation to any given case depending on legislation used. In some instances, multiple actions may be taken as the case progresses through the different stages of the regulatory process.
Where there is non-compliance with legal requirements, after an informal approach has been made, formal action will be taken as detailed in stages two and three below.
However, where there are serious breaches in legal requirements, the authority will take a formal approach in the first instance and will move immediately to stages two and three.
Stage 1 – Informal Enforcement Action. Providing Assistance, Information, Education and Informal Action
|Type of action||Details of action|
|Information and leaflets||A wide range of information and links are available information for landlords|
|Telephone calls, emails and letters||To advise of works or actions to be taken, following a request from a tenant or as a result of an inspection by this service. These will cover deficiencies in regulatory requirements.|
|Inspection report||A report showing deficiencies or areas of non-compliance with specific legislation. The report may also include recommended works of good practice.|
|Landlord conference/forums||The Council supports and attend Local landlord forums.|
|Referrals to other services/agencies or regulators||For specialist areas within their remit.|
|Landlord and agent associations||Information and support can be obtained from industry-led organisations such as the NLRA and NALS. Please refer to the organisation’s website for details.|
Stage 2 – Formal enforcement action issued by the local authority
Formal notices will be served or formal action will be taken in situations where:
- the council has a duty to serve a notice or take a specified action;
- statutory requirements have been breached;
- remedial action needs to be taken quickly;
- an owner, landlord or agent has a history of non-compliance;
- a property has actionable hazards that create risks to an occupier's health and safety (or that of a visitor);
- there is a long term empty property.
In cases where an officer decides it is more appropriate to take formal enforcement action without first giving an opportunity to resolve the issue informally, the officer will explain to the person concerned the reasons for this decision.
Where notices and orders are served, the authority will provide copies to other interested parties, such as the occupier; mortgagee; freeholder; leaseholder or agent in accordance with the specific legislative requirements.
Certain notices, orders and charges are required to be registered as a local land charge and whilst the matter is outstanding, these will be disclosed to any prospective purchaser making a local land search.
There are a number of different types of formal notices, licences, warnings and charges that can be issued by the authority:
|Type of notice||Charges that can be issued by the authority|
|Formal notice, order or licence||Served to require works or actions to be undertaken in accordance with specified legislative requirements.|
|Notices to recover costs and expenses incurred by the authority in taking enforcement action||Served in connection with Housing Act 2004 notices for the recovery of costs and expenses.|
|Power of Entry notices||Served when access is required into residential premises at a specified date and time.|
|Notices requiring information or documents||Served to require prescribed documents or information to be supplied.|
|Emergency Prohibition Order||Served under the Housing Act 2004 to immediately prohibit use of premises (or part of) where a serious health and safety issue exists.|
|Emergency remedial action||Serious, emergency works undertaken immediately by the local authority in default. Costs incurred by the council in taking this action will be recovered.|
|Revocation or variation of an improvement notice, prohibition order or emergency prohibition order||Notices served to vary or revoke the terms of a previously served enforcement notice or order.|
|Revocation, variation or refusal to licence premises||Notices served to vary the terms or revoke a previous licence issued, or to refuse to licence a property.|
|Works in default||Works undertaken in default by the authority to ensure compliance with a legal requirement. Costs incurred by the council in taking this action will be recovered.|
|Civil or monetary penalty||A notice issued by the local authority to impose a financial penalty. It is to be paid to the authority in situations where there are breaches of legal requirements or where offences have been committed.|
|Simple caution||Issued by the local authority where offences have been committed.|
|Compulsory Purchase Order and enforced sale||An Order served by the authority for a long term empty home where it is causing blight and statutory nuisance in an area. It is used only where there is proven demand for this house type. A sale of a property can be imposed to recover unpaid debts incurred by the authority for undertaking essential repair works in default.|
|Management orders and empty dwelling management orders||Orders served by the authority where no responsible person can be identified to manage a privately rented or empty home.|
|Banning Orders||Applied for when a landlord has been convicted of relevant offences and it is considered that the severity of the offending is such that they or their associates should not be allowed to operate in the Private Housing Sector. Link to download|