Health and safety standards in social housing
All social housing (ie: council or housing association properties), must meet certain health and safety standards. If they fail to meet those standards the conditions could cause a hazard to your household.
In situations like these, the environmental health department of your local council may be able to help. If not, you may be able take your landlord to court.
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
If you are worried about conditions in your home, you can contact your local council’s environmental health department.
The council can inspect your home and use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to assess if there are risks to your health and safety.
The HHSRS looks at lots of different things, including:
- damp and mould growth
- excessive cold
- faulty gas boilers
- fire risks
- dangerous electrics
- the risk of falling on stairs, floors or paths leading to your home.
It covers problems in communal areas and outside spaces as well as problems inside the house.
If the council finds hazards in your home they might be able to take action against your landlord.
What should I do first?
Before you take action, you should first report any problems to your landlord in writing, and allow a reasonable time for your landlord to fix them. The time needed will depend on the urgency of the problem. If the landlord does nothing, you could send a second letter, warning that you will contact the environmental health department if the work is not done by a certain deadline.
Use our sample letters to help you:
Remember to keep a copy of any letter or email you send.
What can the environmental health department do?
If your landlord does not respond or deal with the problems, you can ask the council’s environmental health department to come out and inspect your home. Use our sample letter:
Repairs 12 – letter requesting an EHD inspection.
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.
If the environmental health officer decides that your home includes a serious hazard, they should take action. The action they can take depends on who your landlord is:
My landlord is the council
If you are a council tenant, the environmental health department can only provide limited help. They can send a report or informal notice to your housing office telling them what work needs to be done.
However, as part of the council they can’t take formal enforcement action against themselves.
Use your council’s complaints procedure if the housing office won’t do the work that’s needed or doesn’t pay attention to the environment health report.
My landlord is an housing association
If you are a housing association tenant, the environmental health department can take enforcement action against your landlord. They may order them to take action to tackle the problems in your home. They can do this by issuing:
- a hazard awareness notice – warning your landlord that the council is aware of the problem
- an improvement notice – ordering your landlord to carry out certain repairs or improvements by a certain time.
Use your housing association’s complaints procedure if they don’t do the work that’s needed.
What if the environmental health team won’t help me?
If the environmental health department doesn’t take action, you may be able to:
- take the landlord to court yourself
- use your landlord’s complaints procedure
- complain to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales
- challenge the environmental health department’s decision not to take action by complaining to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales or by way of judicial review through the courts.
Get advice from Shelter Cymru if you are considering doing any of these things.