Minimum safe housing conditions

Tackling unsafe housing conditions and safeguarding public health on private land

Poor housing conditions include many things. It could be leaking pipes or roofs, damp, inadequate heating, dangerous electrical wiring, disconnected power or water supplies or other hazardous conditions around a property.

It's likely that, as a tenant, you'll only be liable for very minor repairs and the landlord will have the duty to sort out any bigger problems.

Our private housing team can advise you and where necessary, order the landlord to carry out repairs. Contact the team:

RAO@lbhf.gov.uk
020 8753 1081

It is very important that you have your landlord's contact details ready when you first contact us.

How we respond to private sector housing complaints

We'll call you about your enquiry and ask you further questions to help decide how we can help.

We can't investigate or make visits for all complaints and enquiries that we receive. We therefore prioritise:

  • complaints of poor housing conditions in the private rented sector
  • conditions reported that may be serious hazards to safety or health of occupants in the next 12 months
  • vulnerable people, for example households with older people and those under five years of age, Disabled people, those in fuel poverty for excess cold or protected tenants
  • conditions in private residences that pose a serious public health risk.

Responding to housing associations complaints

We don't normally carry out a full investigations for complaints received from tenants of registered housing providers. This is because they have an infrastructure in place to deal with serious hazards and disrepair.

In exceptional circumstances, we may prioritise urgent or serious complaints in premises managed or owned by registered housing providers. However, you must have made a formal complaint through the provider's complaints procedure before contacting us. If the complaint is not urgent or serious, we may write to the provider and inform them that a complaint has been received and recommend action only.

Overcrowding

Overcrowding can cause severe stress in any household, and in 'houses in multiple occupation' (HMOs) it puts a strain on the use of kitchen and sanitary facilities and increases the risk of fire. Action can be taken to prevent overcrowding.

Power and water supplies

If the electricity, gas or water supply has been disconnected because the landlord has failed to pay a bill, we can get these reconnected by serving a formal notice.

Drainage

Defective or blocked drains are a severe health risk and we have powers to require landlords to carry out urgent repairs. In certain circumstances, we will do the repairs needed.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas from which older people, children, pregnant women and those with breathing problems or cardiovascular disease are at increased risk. Sources include stoves, fires and boilers, water heaters, paraffin heaters and room heaters. The following signs may be recognised in your home:

  • black sooty staining on or around an appliance (e.g. stoves, boilers and fires) such as on the walls
  • smoke or excessive condensation accumulating in rooms due to faulty flues: though you cannot smell carbon monoxide, you can often smell other combustion products
  • yellow or orange, instead of blue, flames from gas appliances or boiler pilot lights.

Landlord's responsibilities regarding smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

Regulating fire safety in private housing

We have a programme of high-risk HMO inspections to ensure that means-of-escape and adequate fire safety measures are in place and to identify unlicensed HMOs. There is an overlapping fire safety responsibility between us and the London Fire Brigade (LFB). Owners are required to carry out a fire risk assessment and make an emergency plan. The fire risk assessment is a systematic examination of the premises to identify the hazards from fire which must be recorded.

We have a range of enforcement powers to ensure that premises are made safe. Management Regulations in HMOs also impose requirements that fire safety measures are maintained.

Fire and gas safety for landlords and property owners

Contact us

If we can help you or you need a service, please contact us:

Private Housing & Health Service,
6th Floor, Town Hall Extension, King Street
Hammersmith,
London W6 9JU

phs@lbhf.gov.uk
020 8753 1221
Fax: 020 8753 1250

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