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Local authority help with repairs - notices and orders under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System

This advice applies to England

If your landlord has failed to do repair work, the local authority may be able to force them to take action. The local authority can do this if there's a hazard which is a risk to your health or safety following an assessment under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

This page explains the type of action that a local authority can take under the HHSRS.

What is a hazard?

A hazard is any risk of harm to your health or safety because of a problem in your home. Examples include damp and mould growth and problems with asbestos, carbon dioxide or other dangerous gases. Hazards are rated according to how serious they are. The highest risks and most dangerous hazards are in Category 1. Less dangerous hazards are in Category 2.

What can the local authority do under the HHSRS?

The local authority can deal with poor housing conditions under the HHSRS in different ways. These include:

  • serving a hazard awareness notice
  • serving an improvement notice
  • making a prohibition order
  • taking emergency measures
  • making a demolition order
  • declaring a clearance area.

What's a hazard awareness notice?

A hazard awareness notice:

  • tells your landlord that there's a Category 1 or 2 hazard in your home
  • explains what the hazard is
  • states what action your landlord should take to deal with it, but your landlord doesn't have to do anything.

You should also get a copy of the notice.

What's an improvement notice?

An improvement notice requires your landlord to carry out work to deal with a Category 1 or 2 hazard, or both. The notice says:

  • what the hazard is
  • what's causing it
  • what work your landlord needs to do
  • the date when work should start (not earlier than 28 days after the notice is served) and when the work must be completed by.

You should also get a copy of the notice.

Your landlord has the right to appeal the notice within 21 days.

If your landlord doesn't do the work, or if the work starts but reasonable progress isn't made, the local authority may carry out the work itself, and claim the cost back from your landlord.

Your landlord can be prosecuted and fined for failing to comply with the terms of an improvement notice.

The local authority may agree to suspend an improvement notice if it thinks that it's safe to postpone the work.

What's a prohibition order?

A prohibition order can be made where there are one or more Category 1 or Category 2 hazards. A prohibition order stops the use of part or all of a building, or restricts the type or number of people living there. For example, an order could say that young children aren't allowed to live in the property.

The order will say what work the landlord needs to do to be able to use the building again and it comes into force 28 days after it's made.

You should also get a copy of the order.

If the terms of an order mean that, as the tenant, you can't stay in your home, you'll have certain rights to be rehoused or compensated or both. This includes:

  • being rehoused by the local authority in suitable alternative accommodation, and/or
  • compensation from the local authority for loss of your home, provided you've lived there for at least one year, and/or
  • a disturbance payment from the local authority to cover reasonable moving costs.

You and your landlord have the right to appeal against a prohibition order within 28 days.

A landlord can be prosecuted and fined for failing to comply with the terms of a prohibition order.

The local authority may agree to suspend a prohibition order if it thinks that it's safe to postpone the work.

What are emergency measures?

The local authority can take emergency remedial action or make an emergency prohibition order if:

  • there's a Category 1 hazard in your home, and
  • there's a good chance that you or anyone you live with will suffer serious harm in the near future.

Emergency remedial action removes the risk of serious harm. A local authority has an immediate right of access if it decides to take emergency action. If this happens, you and your landlord are served with a notice.

The local authority can claim the cost of any work back from your landlord.

An emergency prohibition order gives specific restrictions on the use of a building. The order comes into force straightaway.

Copies of the order have to be served on the day it's made or as soon as possible afterwards.

Appeals for emergency measures should be made within 28 days.

What are demolition orders and clearance areas?

If the local authority decides that the best course of action is to demolish a building, it'll issue a demolition order.

Repairs won't be carried out and the landlord has to demolish the property and board up the site. As tenant, you'll have certain rights to be rehoused or compensated or both – these are explained above.

If the local authority is satisfied that all buildings in a particular area are dangerous or harmful to the health and safety of occupants, it can declare a clearance area. The local authority then has to purchase the area, demolish all the buildings and rehouse all of the residents.

Appeals against local authority action

Appeals against local authority enforcement measures under the HHSRS are dealt with by the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) in England, or the Residential Property Tribunal in Wales.

In England, there's guidance on applying to the First-tier Tribunal on the Ministry of Justice website.

In Wales, there's guidance on the HHSRS and appeals on the Residential Property Tribunal for Wales website.

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