Enforcement and Regulatory Policy for Private Sector Housing
3.0 Statutory regulations and legislation
3.1 Local authorities have statutory duties and discretionary powers to improve standards in the Private Housing Sector. Enforcement action undertaken by the Private Sector Housing team will be discharged in line with the principles of good enforcement set out in the following (details of all legislation used by the Private Sector Housing Team are outlined in Appendix 1):
- Regulators' Code
- The Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council Regulatory Services Enforcement Policy
- Housing Act 2004
- Environmental Protection Act 1990
- Civil Penalties and Rent Repayment Orders under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 - Guidance for Local Housing Authorities
- The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (as amended)
- Criminal Procedures and Investigations Act 1996
- Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
- Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006
- The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007
- The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015
3.2 The Private Sector Housing team will enforce the regulations and legislation efficiently and effectively without imposing unnecessary burdens upon property owners and occupiers.
Advice and guidance
3.3 The Private Sector Housing Team will provide general information, advice and guidance to assist owner occupiers, landlords and tenants to understand and meet their responsibilities. This will normally be done through the Council's website.
3.4 In the first instance the Private Sector Housing Team will generally seek to resolve issues informally, the Council believes that this approach facilitates a swifter resolution to repairs/improvement issues when compared to the formal route.
3.5 This process gives landlords the opportunity to resolve matters and helps reduce the burden that can arise from having to take formal enforcement action. The formal route will be pursued if little or no progress has been made using the informal route.
3.6 If there is a history of non-compliance by a landlord or an owner or if the condition of the property presents a serious risk of harm or an imminent risk of serious harm to the health and safety to occupiers or visitors or matters are deemed to be an emergency then the Private Sector Housing Team may take formal enforcement action.
3.7 Appendix 2 provides a summary of the process undertaken by the Private Sector Housing Team to respond to complaints regarding housing conditions and bring about improvements in sub-standard housing.
When we will take enforcement action
- Targeted: Enforcement action will target the properties and people that pose the greatest risk, including the owners and landlords that evade licensing and regulation; those whose properties cause a nuisance or put people's health and safety at risk, or where a landlord has a history of not complying with informal requests to undertake work or non-compliance with statutory notices.
- Proportionate: Actions will be taken in proportion to reflect the nature, scale and seriousness of any breach or non-compliance (for example carrying out costly works in default where it would be difficult for the Council to recover its costs).
- Fair and Objective: Enforcement action will be based on the individual circumstances of the case, taking all available facts into account.
- Transparent: The Council will ensure its policies are clearly defined and readily available. As far as is reasonably practicable all communications will provide full details and clear reasons for any enforcement action being taken against a person.
- Consistent: Private Sector Housing Officers will be fully trained to ensure consistency in the interpretation and enforcement of legislation and will liaise with other Council departments, the Fire Authority and Cleveland Police wherever necessary.
- Accountable: The Private Sector Housing team will consult with landlords, tenants and other stakeholders with an interest in private sector housing wherever possible and appropriate.