Housing Standards Team information

Housing Standards Team is part of the Council's Regeneration Directorate and deal with the following:

Contact us for further information about these issues:

Housing Standards Team
Belmont House
Rectory Lane
TS14 7FD

Tel: (01287) 612455
Fax: (01642) 771124
E-mail: housing.eho@redcar-cleveland.gov.uk

Assistance to improve your home

Do you need help to tackle home repairs or are you struggling to afford essential home improvements? Visit the Helping Hand website which explains how your council can help you, if you are a homeowner and are struggling to carry out repairs, essential improvements, or adaptations to your home. http://helpinghandnortheast.org.uk/

Caravan Site Standards

The Regeneration Directorate are consulted on the issue of caravan site licences and related planning matters. The Housing Standards Team are involved in ensuring minimum standards are in place. The standards cover issues such as fire safety, spacing between caravans, facilities on the site, the number of caravans, water supply and drainage, refuse disposal, parking and recreation space.

Domestic Drainage

Northumbrian Water is directly responsible for the maintenance and cleansing of public sewers. These are the main sewers into which the individual private drainage from a building discharges.

For advice concerning foul or surface water sewers, sewerage problems, flooding or sewerage connections or any other water supply problems call Northumbrian Water Customer Service Hotline on 0845 7171100. Private drainage is the responsibility of the householder.

Housing Standards may have information concerning private drainage between your house and the main sewer. This may include advice about defects or blockages affecting sewers, cesspools, septic tanks, drains, soil pipes, rainwater pipes, sinks, water closets etc. In certain circumstances more investigation may be required to resolve private drainage concerns.

Defra news release, 1 July 2011

The Government is introducing changes which will transfer private sewers that connect to the public sewerage system to the water and sewerage companies. The new Regulations came into force on 1 July 2011, and the transfer will take place on 1 October 2011. For more information, please follow this link to the Defra pages: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/quality/water/sewage/sewers/

Empty Properties

A property that is open to access and obviously not occupied may be secured. An officer will inspect the building and contact the owner to secure the property. Should the owner fail to satisfactorily secure the property then an enforcement notice may be served upon the person responsible for completing the work.

There are empty homes throughout the Borough, which although unoccupied, may be suitable for occupation or renovation. Officers may be able to trace the owner to establish their long-term plans for the property in an effort to provide a suitable home for a tenant in the future. The council has launched its second Empty Homes Strategy 2008/2013 which aims to provide a framework that will ensure that appropriate empty homes are brought back into use, using a range of flexible solutions which are tailored to meet the needs of each individual case.

Empty Property Hotline: (01287) 612300 (24 hour answerphone)

Further information about Empty Homes

Fire Safety of Furniture and Furnishings

Landlords who rent out furnished accommodation or holiday homes must comply with new regulations about furniture and furnishings. Many foam filled furniture items do not meet fire safety standards. Advice is available by contacting an officer from the Trading Standards & Consumer Advice Section.

Free Home Fire Safety Check - visit the Cleveland Fire Brigade website for fire safety advice: www.clevelandfire.gov.uk/community-safety

Filthy/Verminous Premises

There are occasions when persons live in conditions that are considered to be filthy, unwholesome or verminous. These properties on occasion are only identified when a neighbour suspects that a property is no longer occupied or when they notice an unusual smell from the property next door. Upon receiving a complaint, an officer would liaise with other agencies and visit and assess the conditions and the risk to the health of the occupier and/or neighbouring residents.

Gas Safety in Rented Properties

All landlords of private rented property have a legal duty to make sure all gas appliances in rented accommodation are in good working order including having the appliances checked or serviced. The Local Authority or the Health and Safety Executive enforce legislation concerning gas safety.

If you are concerned about your gas appliance or would like more information about a landlords responsibilities and you live in a private rented home, there is a range of leaflets available through Housing Standards.

Houses in Multiple Occupation

What is a House in Multiple Occupation?

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is defined by Sections 254 to 259 of the Housing Act 2004 and applies to a wide range of housing types. These include:

  • a building, or part of a building that is occupied by two or more households and there is some sharing of amenities such as bathroom, toilet or kitchen;
  • a converted building which is not comprised entirely of self-contained flats, whether or not there is also sharing (or lack of) amenities;
  • a building or part of a building that is comprised entirely of self-contained flats and the standard of conversion does not meet the minimum required by the 1991 Building Regulations and at least one third of the flats are occupied under short term tenancies.
The Department for Communities and Local Government have confirmed that a self contained unit is one which has inside it a kitchen (or cooking area), bathroom and toilet for the exclusive use of the household living in the unit. If the occupiers need to leave the unit to gain access to any one of these amenities, that unit isnt self contained.

A household is defined as members of the same family, including unmarried couples who are living together as man and wife (or the equivalent relationship between people of the same sex).

Exemptions from HMO definition

Certain types of buildings will not be defined as HMOs for the purpose of the Act, other than Part one (HHSRS). These include:
  • buildings occupied buildings, or parts of buildings, occupied by no more than two households each of which comprise a single person (i.e. two person flat shares');
  • buildings occupied by a resident landlord with up to two tenants;
  • those managed or owned by a public body (such as police or the NHS) or a Local Housing Authority or a Registered Social Landlord;
  • where the residential accommodation is ancillary to the principal use of the building e.g. religious establishments, conference centres etc;
  • student halls of residence, where the education establishment has signed up to an Approved Code of Practice;
  • buildings regulated otherwise than under the Act, such as care homes, bail hostels etc, and the description of which are specified in regulations;
  • buildings entirely occupied by freeholders or long leaseholders.
Disrepair in HMOs

If you are concerned about the conditions in a HMO an officer may assess the accommodation using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). Landlords of HMOs also need to ensure they manage the property in accordance with The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006. They require the manager to:
  • provide occupiers with contact information;
  • maintain all fire safety measures;
  • protect occupiers from injury;
  • maintain water supply and drainage;
  • maintain gas and electricity supplies;
  • maintain common parts and installations;
  • ensure properties are in a clean condition at the time of letting and are maintained in good repair;
  • provide waste disposal facilities.
Tenants living in HMOs are required to cooperate in the management of the property, avoid causing damage to the property, store and dispose of litter in accordance with the arrangements made by the manager, and comply with reasonable instructions regarding any means of escape from fire, the prevention of fire and the use of fire fighting equipment.

Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation

The Housing Act 2004 has introduced mandatory licensing for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). It is compulsory to license the larger, higher-risk HMOs. Councils may also license other smaller HMOs to tackle problems in these properties.

Why has licensing been introduced?

Larger HMOs, such as bedsits and shared houses, often have poorer physical and management standards than other privately rented properties. The people in HMOs can be amongst the most vulnerable and disadvantage members of society. Licensing is aimed at trying to reduce this problem, whilst acknowledging those landlords who provide a good standard of accommodation.

Licensing is intended to make sure that:
  • landlords or managers of HMOs are fit and proper people;
  • each HMO is suitable for occupation by the number of people allowed under the licence;
  • the standard of management of the HMO is adequate;
  • high risk HMOs can be identified and targeted for improvement.
Which HMOs are required to be licensed?

HMOs subject to mandatory licensing are those that are;
  • three or more storeys high;
  • have five or more people in more than one household; and
  • share amenities such as bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities, or the living accommodation is not wholly self-contained.
What to do if you believe you own a licensable property

If you believe you own a property that may require a licence telephone the HMO Licensing Hotline (01287) 612300 (24hr answer machine outside office hours).

Alternatively apply for a licence for a House in Multiple Occupation online

Further information

For further information on HMO licensing, visit the DCLG website

Housing Health & Safety Rating System

What is the HHSRS?

The Housing Act 2004 has introduced a new way in which local authorities assess housing conditions. The Housing Fitness Standard has been replaced by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

The Principle

The principle behind the HHSRS is that dwellings (including outbuildings, yards, amenity space, means of access etc) should provide a safe and healthy environment for occupiers and visitors. The HHSRS is an evidence based risk assessment, which considers the effects that conditions, defects and deficiencies have on occupants and visitors. This system enables local authorities to address more effectively the hazards to health and safety present in the home.

The Hazards

The HHSRS may be used to assess 29 potential health and safety hazards in a dwelling. These include:

  • Damp and Mould Growth;
  • Excess Cold;
  • Domestic Hygiene, Pests and Refuse;
  • Personal Hygiene, Sanitation and Drainage;
  • Falls associated with baths; stairs and steps; between levels and on the level;
  • Electrical Hazards;
  • Fire.
What action can be taken?

Following the inspection of a property using the HHSRS any action taken by the Council will be based on a three stage decision making process:
  • the hazard rating as determined by the HHSRS assessment;
  • whether the Council has a duty or power to act; and
  • the Councils judgement as to the most appropriate course of action to deal with the hazard.
There is a range of action available to the Council, including the following:
  • working informally with the property owner to address hazards identified;
  • serve an improvement notice requiring repairs or improvements;
  • make a prohibition order, which closes the whole or part of a dwelling or restrict the number of occupiers;
  • take emergency action where there is an imminent risk to the occupiers;
  • serve a hazard awareness notice informing the property owner of the presence of hazards.
Further Information

For more information on the HHSRS, visit the DCLG website. You may also wish download the Housing Act 2004, Housing Health & Safety Rating System, A Guide for Landlords, Managing Agents and Tenants. The guide is published by the Sector Skills Council in association with the following partner organisations:
  • National Federation of Residential Landlords (NFRL)
  • Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)
  • British Property Federation (BPF)
  • National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)
  • Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH)
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
  • Local Government Association (LGA)
The guide is available from the CIEH website

Housing Renewal Projects

Greater Eston Regeneration
Greater Eston is an important part of Redcar & Cleveland and the Council are investing in the area now to create a vibrant and sustainable 21st Century community.

The delivery of ambitious regeneration projects as set out in A New Perspective, the Greater Eston Delivery Plan, will create new homes, boost jobs, provide quality healthcare and shopping facilities, and simply make Greater Eston a better place to live, work and play.

For further details about this regeneration project, please follow this link Greater Eston Regeneration website

East Cleveland
In 2005 a Neighbourhood Renewal Assessment study was undertaken in the Brickyard, Park and High Street area of Brotton, East Cleveland. This area of the borough is made up of a concentrated area of older terraced street properties and the authority was concerned that conditions within the housing market were in decline. Consequently Fordham Research Limited were commissioned to undertake a study to determine conditions within the area and to make recommendations as to the most appropriate course of action. The study did not demonstrate that the housing market was in decline.

The Council's cabinet approved the final report and agreed that the principles of Option B "Facelift and Energy Efficiency" should be adopted and be used to direct future investment programmes and as such act as a basis for a blue print for the study area. The estimated budget to deliver this option over the next 10 years is £3,320,000. Officers have commenced investigations into possible funding sources.

Brotton (The Brickyards & Park) Neighbourhood Renewal Assessment 2005:

The following documents are available to download:

 icon Executive_Summary.pdf (414.44k)
Last modified: 18/07/2006 10:30:29

 icon BrottonNRA_Final_Report.pdf (1.59Mb)
Last modified: 18/07/2006 10:23:30

Illegal Eviction & Harassment

A residential occupier may be illegally evicted or suffer harassment from their landlord, a friend of the landlord or his agent. Some examples of harassment include threats to illegally evict, disconnection of services, persistent unannounced visits, interfering with mail and removal of a tenants possessions.

Most tenancies involve a proper procedure to terminate the right to occupy the accommodation. Examples of unlawful evictions include changing locks, moving another person into the accommodation, removing the occupiers possessions. The occupier would not normally agree to or be aware of the above acts that may amount to illegal eviction.

Evicted persons should contact the Housing Advice & Information Team for advice on homelessness and eligibility for rehousing.

See also:
Housing Advice: Private Rented Property

Statutory Nuisances
A statutory nuisance may arise from defective premises, accumulations of rubbish, smells, smoke from premises, fumes or gas from private dwelling or poor animal housekeeping.

The conditions that warrant statutory action must be such as to prejudicial to health or a nuisance in law. An environmental health officer makes a judgement as to whether conditions constitute a statutory nuisance.

Landlord/Tenant Advice
There have been numerous changes to the type and form of tenancy for private rented accommodation over the years. The local authority may provide general advice about the type of tenancy that you currently hold. These changes have resulted in a variety of tenancies in existence at the same time. Depending upon when and what you have signed, or even if you have never signed an agreement, you are likely to have a specific type of tenancy. Each case would be determined on its own merits. Advice about tenancy conditions, notice to quit, paying a bond etc is also available to private sector tenants.

See also: Housing to Rent: Private Rented Sector

Mediation Service
Housing Standards are able to refer disputes between neighbours, landlords, tenants etc. to an independent Community Mediation Service. The case must be suitable for mediation. The mediation service is free, confidential and impartial. Issues may concern litter, noise, children, dogs, invasion of privacy, parking, boundaries, verbal abuse etc.

Mediators act as go-betweens and listen to all sides without judgement then help everyone concerned to look at ways of improving the situation for the future.

Overcrowding in Dwellings
There are prescribed standards for the number of persons sleeping in a dwelling house including houses in multiple occupation. This is calculated by considering the number and size of rooms within the accommodation. An assessment of each individual case would be made to determine whether accommodation is overcrowded.

Standards for Private Rented Accommodation
Please see: Housing to Rent: Private Rented Sector

Private Sector House Condition Surveys
Please see: Private Sector House Condition Survey 2007

Housing Homepage

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