Housing enforcement guidance

Housing Act 2004

The Housing Act 2004 introduced the housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS), a method of assessing and categorising hazards to health.

Category 1 hazards

These are serious hazards that we have a duty to take enforcement action. There are 3 bands, A to C.

Category 2 hazards

These are less serious hazards that we have discretion to take action. There are 7 bands, D to J.

Category summary

The categories are summarised below:

Housing health and safety rating system diagram

Enforcement options

The range of enforcement options for each category are:

Category 1

Not appropriate
  • No action
  • Hazard awareness notice
  • Improvement notice
  • Prohibition order
  • Emergency remedial
  • Emergency prohibition
  • Demolition order
  • Clearance area

Category 2

Not appropriate
  • Emergency remedial
  • Emergency prohibition
  • No action
  • Hazard awareness notice
  • Improvement notice
  • Prohibition order
In prescribed circumstances
  • Demolition order
  • Clearance area

Factors to consider

When considering the most appropriate action, factors to consider are:

  • whether an informal approach such as a letter informing the landlord of defects and asking them to confirm their intentions in a set timescale is appropriate. This may be based on previous history of compliance
  • the significance of the hazards
  • the extent and location of the hazards
  • whether we are under a duty or has a power to take formal action in respect of the hazards identified
  • the level of risk posed to the occupiers, including whether there is an imminent risk of serious harm
  • the views and intentions of the occupiers
  • the views and intentions of the owners
  • the compliance record of the person in control of the premises
  • whether the chosen option is practical, reasonable and proportionate in reducing the hazards to an acceptable level
  • the physical impact on adjoining buildings
  • the longer term viability of the premises
  • the impact on the local community and on the appearance of the local area
  • whether the tenant will be protected from retaliatory eviction

Appendix 1 shows a flow chart that can be downloaded to aid decision making and appropriate action.

When an enforcement notice is served under the Housing Act 2004 it will be accompanied by a statement of reasons indicating why one type of enforcement action was taken rather than the other options available.

There is a right of appeal against any notice or order made by us. All appeals are made to the First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber). They may confirm, quash or vary the notice, order or decision.

Retaliatory Eviction and the Deregulation Act 2015

This provides tenants with protection from eviction by a section 21 notice following the service of an Improvement Notice or Emergency Remedial Action under the Housing Act 2004. Provided they had asked the landlord in writing to deal with the issue of concern. With a section 21 notice the landlord has to give two months’ notice but doesn’t have to give a reason.

Tenants are required to contact their landlord in writing about repairs prior to us investigating. Where they have done this and a category one hazard is identified during inspection serving a notice rather than a letter is likely to be the chosen option to ensure the tenant is protected.

This process does not offer protection from eviction under section 8 where a landlord can still serve notice due to rent arrears and breaking terms of the tenancy.

House in multiple occupation (HMO) management orders

Part 4 of the Housing Act 2004 sets out the provisions for interim and final management orders. Section 102 places a duty on the council to make an interim management order if a licensable house in multiple occupation (HMO) is unlicensed, or the licence has been revoked, and there is no prospect of it becoming licensed and the order is necessary to protect the health, safety or welfare of the tenants.

The interim management order must be replaced with a final management order when it expires if the property continues to need a licence but one cannot be issued.

There are also discretionary powers for interim and final management orders which will be considered on a case by case basis, having regard to the relevant legislation and guidance available.

Serving notice under the Housing Act 2004

The information below sets out who to serve a notice on as identified in the Housing Act 2004. It may be appropriate to serve on the owner and agent where it is not possible to determine between them who has control.

Housing Act 2004 - schedule 1 - who to serve a notice on

Dwelling - not a flat and not needing to be licenced

Person having control

HMO - not a flat and not needing to be licenced

Person having control or person managing

Dwelling - in a selective licensing scheme

Licence holder

Licensed HMO

Licence holder

Flat - single occupation or HMO and not needing to be licensed

Owner of the flat and person who in the local authority's opinion ought to do the works

Common parts which do not consist of residential accommodation

Owner of the specific premises (common parts or building) and person who in the local authority's opinion ought to do the works

In all cases

Copies to:

  • anyone with an relevant interest (freeholder, mortgagee or lessee)
  • any occupier


Person having control

The person who receives the rack rent can be in their own right or on behalf of another (agent or trustee).

Rack rent

This is essentially a market rent (not less than two-thirds of the full market rent).

Person managing

This means the person who being an owner of lessee of the premises receives rents.

Costs incurred by taking certain enforcement action

The Housing Act 2004, section 49 allows for the recovery of administrative and other expenses incurred in taking enforcement action. A charge will be made for the following actions:

  • serving an improvement notice
  • serving an prohibition order or emergency prohibition order
  • emergency remedial action
  • a management notice for HMOs

Charges will reflect the actual costs incurred for the individual case including staffing and support costs from the point that enforcement action was deemed necessary.