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Fourteen Serious Health Breaches Found During Inspection

Fourteen serious health hazards were discovered in 11 rented properties in the same Newcastle street, in a pilot scheme run by the Borough Council.

Inspections were carried out by the Housing Services team, as part of an initiative to target privately-rented properties that have been converted into flats.

Such properties are often used to accommodate tenants in receipt of benefits, who may be more vulnerable or have support needs, and the pilot scheme focused on one particular area on the outskirts of Newcastle-under-L:yme town centre, where there is a known concentration of these type of flats.

Officers targeted six properties – containing 18 flats – along with a further five ‘multiple occupation’ houses; they found 14 Category One (serious risk to health) and 25 Category Two hazards (posing a less serious risk to health, including poor loft insulation/draught proofing, inadequate lighting, damp and mould) during their inspections.

The Category One hazards were mainly in relation to poor/inadequate fire alarm systems/fire safety between flats, and excess cold, due to inadequate heating.

Landlords were immediately advised of the works required – which included installing central heating and improving fire safety – to ensure their properties were brought fully into line with current health and safety legislation.

Most of the private landlords complied with the requests – but in some cases enforcement action was used against those who were renting sub-standard properties.

Cllr Kyle Robinson, Cabinet member for planning and housing, said: “Housing and health go hand-in-hand, and thanks to this proactive scheme many private tenants in Newcastle-under-Lyme will now be healthier, warmer and safer.

“The Council appreciates that most landlords act in a professional manner and properly maintain their properties. However, those who do not must understand that we will have no hesitation in using enforcement action in cases where their properties fail to meet the required standards.”

Following the success of the pilot initiative, housing officers are now considering extending the proactive inspections scheme to other areas of the Borough.