We may be able to help if you have problems with the condition or management of your private rented accommodation.
What should you do if you have a problem?
If you have a problem with the condition of your home such as disrepair to the building, or worries about fire, gas or electrical safety, or there are problems with the management of communal areas or amenities, you should bring these matters to the attention of your landlord, or managing agent, first of all, preferably in writing, to give them the opportunity to put matters right (your tenancy agreement might also require you to do this). It is a good idea to keep a copy of any letters you send so that you can refer to them later if necessary.
If the problem is still not sorted out you can contact us to see if we can help.
What will we do?
An Officer will contact you within 5 working days (sooner in an emergency) and, depending on what the problem is, they may offer advice over the telephone, provide you with written information, or refer you to another department or organisation if appropriate. If the Officer considers that the matter requires further investigation they will arrange to visit your home to assess the problem.
How do we assess health and safety?
Officers use a risk assessment tool called the ‘Housing Health and Safety Rating System’ (HHSRS) to assess the potential risks in your home. They will assess how likely it is that an incident causing harm will occur, and the severity of the harm that might be caused.
This assessment gives a score, which, if over 1000, means the hazard is serious (class 1) or, if less than 1000, less serious (class 2).
For example, you may have a staircase that is very steep, in disrepair – perhaps with some broken steps and loose or frayed carpet, with no handrails, and perhaps the hallway light does not work. The likelihood of someone falling and injuring themselves on these stairs would be much higher than in an average house of a similar type. If there are sharp objects such as a radiator or a glass door at the foot of the stairs, any fall could result in even more severe injury. This could well result in a high hazard rating score and therefore a category 1 hazard being identified.
If the staircase is very steep, but in reasonably good repair, with only one handrail, a fall might be less likely, but still slightly higher than average and an assessment might identify this as a category 2 hazard.
What action will we take?
It is important to understand that the Council may not always take action following a hazard assessment.
Councils have a duty to act when category 1 hazards are identified. When the less serious, category 2 hazards are identified they do not have a duty to act, but they do have the powers to do so.
In Reading, the Council will only take action on category 2 hazards in exceptional circumstances. Such circumstances might be where the hazard score is over 500, the occupants are particularly vulnerable to the hazard(s) identified, or where there are particular local issues identified such as excess cold or entry by intruders.
Officers will usually try to deal with problems informally at first, but if enforcement action is necessary there are several options available, such as serving a notice requiring repairs to be carried out, prohibiting use of the property or limiting the number of occupants, or serving a notice to advise of the presence of the hazard. Emergency action will be taken where there is imminent risk to the occupiers.
Tenants do have certain legal responsibilities with regard to private rented accommodation, such as allowing the landlord reasonable access to inspect the property and carry out necessary works, and to take reasonable care of the property. If you have any queries about your responsibilities please contact the Housing Advice Service.
Housing Advice Service
If your concerns are regarding matters such as harrassment, tenancy issues, housing options, or tenant rights, you should contact the Housing Advice Service, as the Private Housing (Health & Safety) and Houses in Multiple Occupation Teams will not be able to advise you on civil matters such as these.
Further information available
There is more information on the Housing Health and Safety Rating System on the Government website - please follow the link shown below.
Reading Borough Council does not necessarily endorse or recommend any of the links or services below. Please note: when you follow these links you will leave this site.
|gov.uk||Communities and Local Government website: Further information on HHSRS can be obtained from this website.
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