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Safety in private rented accommodation

Health and safety considerations

The Private Sector Housing Service is delivered by officers from the People’s Services Department.

It is a priority of the Council to raise housing standards in the rented sector as we have a duty to ensure minimum health and safety standards are achieved across the borough.

As a tenant you are encouraged to write to your landlord or letting agent as soon as you find you have a problem and ask them to repair the faults you have found. However if this fails and your landlord does not respond to your complaint then we may be able to help. 

You can get in touch with us about the problems you are having by using the contact details at the bottom of this page.

If you do have to contact us then we will arrange for an officer to call you back and talk to you about your concerns. They may offer advice over the phone or write to your landlord or arrange a date and time with you when they can come out to inspect your property

Housing Act 2004 - HHSRS guidance

A landlords duty to provide a safe home 

It is important that a tenant has a safe home to live in and if we come to inspect your home then we will use guidance provided under the Housing Act 2004, which is called the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). The officer will use the guidance to decide if the property has any Category 1 or high level Category 2 hazards (i.e. the most serious hazards). However, if the officer finds the property contains lots of low level Category 2 hazards then he/she can still take enforcement action. 

HHSRS looks at 29 separate hazards and the investigating officer must consider

  • if a hazard is present in the the house;
  • if it is a category 1 or high level category 2 hazard;
  • how will the family, visitors or any other person who enters the home be affected;
  • is the hazard very bad now or likely to get worse over the next 12 months.

St Helen's council also has its own enforcement protocol which states that if any one of 5 particular hazards are present then the officer must take enforcement action. These are:

  1. excess cold;
  2. entry by intruders;
  3. falls;
  4. fire and
  5. carbon monoxide.

Normally the first action the officer will take is to send a 'minded-to serve notice' to the landlord/owner, which lists all the faults found at the house. This notice gives the landlord/owner 42 days to repair the issues provided on the list. At this stage the action is informal only and the owner is not charged for the service of the minded-to notice.  

If after 42 days repairs haven't started or there is no major progress then we have a range of enforcement options available such as: 

  • Hazard Awareness Notices 
  • Improvement Notices
  • Emergency Remedial Action
  • Prohibition Orders
  • Demolition Notices

Formal action currently has a charge of £365 per notice served.

A notice will include a list of works the landlord must complete in order to remove the hazard and dangers seen (known as a Schedule of Works). It  provides a date when the works must be completed by. Where the person on whom the notice is served fails to comply then they will be guilty of an offence which is publishable by either

a) a Civil Penalty issued by the Council and which carries a fine up to a maximum level of £30,000 or

b) in the magistrates court with a fine of an unlimited amount

Please refer to the enforcement policy.


Civil Penalties Guidance

Local housing authorities have the power to impose civil penalties for up to £30,000 on individuals and companies for certain specified offences under the Housing Act 2004 as an alternative to prosecution.

In accordance with s249A of the 2004 Act, the amount of the financial penalty is to be determined by the local housing authority.

We have produced a Civil Penalties Guidance document that will complement the St Helens Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy to ensure that a level playing field is created for all landlords by dealing robustly with irresponsible landlords who fail to comply with their legal obligations.


National Fire Safety Guidance

The Fire Safety guidance in residential property leaflet provides advice and information for tenants regarding landlords obligations towards fire safety.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

Landlords in the social and private rented sector must give a new tenant a copy of an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property they are renting. The EPC includes a rating for its energy efficiency level and environmental impact plus it will recommend measures which, if implemented will help to improve the energy rating of the property. This means the property can be more energy efficient and cost the tenant a lot less money to heat it up. 

More information is available for tenants in the EPC tenants booklet


Gas safety Certificates

Landlords have a responsibility to ensure supplied gas appliances e.g. boilers, fires, gas ovens and hobs included in the rental charge are serviced annually. Servicing and repairs must be completed by a registered Gas Safe engineer. If you wish to check on a gas engineer or you would like any advice on gas safety issues then please visit the Gas Safe website

Further advice relating to gas safety in the private rented sector is available from the Shelter the housing and homeless charity website


The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came into effect on the 1 October 2015 and all landlords must now fit at least one smoke alarm on every floor of their property

They must also provide and fit a carbon monoxide alarm in any room that has a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire, wood burning stove).

Landlords must also make sure smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in working order at the start of every new tenancy.

The new regulations are enforced by the local authority and our officers will be able to impose fines (up to £5,000) on a landlord who fails to comply with a notice we send to him/her that instructs them to supply and fit working alarms in their property.

Please read each of the following leaflets to see how these changes will affect you.

Landlords should be aware that the regulations do not contain all the fire safety requirements which their premises may be subject to. There are fire safety requirements under other legislation which may be applicable, such as under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Right to Rent

From 1 February 2016, all private landlords in England must make certain check to ensure their tenant has the right to rent a property in the UK. The new requirement is enforced by the Home Office and more information can be obtained from the official Gov.uk website.


How to get in touch with us

If you would like to raise a Service Request, please contact us by telephone or e-mail using the details below. Alternatively you can use the on-line Service Request form.

If you have any comments about the Council's Housing Enforcement Policy, please let us know using the e-mail address below.

Contact can also be made with Private Sector Housing by one of the following methods:

E-mail:  contactcentre@sthelens.gov.uk

Telephone: (01744) 676789

Write to: Private Housing Initiatives, Town Hall, Victoria Square, St Helens, WA10 1HP