Advice for Private
Rother District Council Housing information series:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Who is this leaflet for?
This leaflet is for tenants of privately rented accommodation. It contains a range
of useful information related to tenancies and living conditions.
We are working to improve standards of privately rented housing in the Rother
district. As a private rented tenant you have a right to expect a certain standard
of accommodation. If you are a tenant and you are concerned about the poor
condition & repair of your home, we can try and help…
• WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR REPAIRS 2
• HOW CAN I GET HELP IF MY LANDLORD WILL
NOT CARRY OUT REPAIRS? 3
• HOUSING HEALTH & SAFETY RATING SYSTEM 3
• DOES MY LANDLORD HAVE THE RIGHT TO
ENTER MY ACCOMMODATION? 4
• MY LANDLORD IS HARASSING ME, WHAT
CAN I DO? 5
• ILLEGAL EVICTION 6
• I HAVE A LOT OF BLACK MOULD ON MY
WALL, WHAT CAN I DO? 6
• ENERGY EFFICIENCY 7
• GAS SAFETY 7
• SAFETY OF FURNITURE & FURNISHINGS 8
• FIRE SAFETY ADVICE 9
• USEFUL TELEPHONE NUMBERS 9
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR REPAIRS?
Unless your tenancy has a fixed term of more than seven years your landlord is
responsible for repairs to: -
• the structure & exterior of the dwelling
• basins, sinks, baths & other sanitary installations in the dwelling
• heating & hot water installations
• electrical & gas installations
Your landlord is not responsible for repairs arising from damage caused
HOW CAN I GET HELP IF MY LANDLORD WILL NOT CARRY OUT REPAIRS
ON MY ACCOMMODATION?
In the first instance you should contact your landlord and make him/her aware of
the problems. Keep a record of the contact you make with the landlord.
However, if after your initial contact your landlord will not address the issues
which you have raised, then please contact the Private Sector Housing Team in
writing or on 01424 787566 for advice and assistance.
When you contact the team an officer will make a mutually convenient
appointment to visit your home, assess the problems under the Housing Health
& Safety Rating System (detailed below) and explain the options that are
available to correct them.
HOUSING HEALTH & SAFETY RATING SYSTEM
On the 6th April 2006 the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
was implemented under the Housing Act 2004 which is an evidence-based risk
assessment of risks to health and safety in residential premises. Local
authorities will base their enforcement decisions in respect of all residential
premises on these assessments. The purpose of the HHSRS assessment is not
to set a standard but to generate objective information in order to determine and
inform enforcement decisions. Assessments are based on the risk to the
potential occupant who is most vulnerable to that hazard.
HHSRS assesses twenty nine categories of housing hazard & provides a rating
for each hazard. Scores in bands A to C are Category 1 hazards and scores in
Bands D to J are Category 2 hazards.
The hazards that can be assessed are those associated with or arising from:
Physiological Requirements Protection Against Infection
Damp and mould growth Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse
Excess cold Food safety
Excess heat Personal hygiene, sanitation and
Asbestos (and MMF) Water supply for domestic purpose
Biocides Protection Against Accidents
Carbon monoxide and fuel combustion Falls associated with baths
Lead Falling on level surfaces
Radiation Falling on etc
Uncombusted fuel gas Falling between levels
Volatile Organic Compounds Electrical hazards
Psychological Requirements Flames, hot surfaces
Crowding and space Collision and entrapment
Entry by intruders Explosions
Lighting Position and operability of amenities
Noise Structural collapse and falling
Detailed information about the Housing Health & Rating System is available on
HHSRS Operating Guidance: February 2006.
HHSRS Enforcement Guidance: Part 1 Housing Conditions: February 2006.
Further Information can be obtained from:
The full text of the Act can be found on the HMSO website.
Guidance can be found on the ODPM website:
DOES MY LANDLORD HAVE THE RIGHT TO ENTER MY
As a tenant you should allow reasonable access to your landlord to carry out
repairs. If your landlord wishes to inspect your accommodation as to its
condition and state of repair, they must give you 24 hours notice in writing
before they carry it out.
MY LANDLORD IS HARASSING ME, WHAT CAN I DO?
What is harassment?
It can be caused by a number of things including threats and physical violence,
anti-social behaviour by the landlord or landlord’s agent, withdrawal of services,
withholding keys, repairs that have not been completed, demand for excessive
repairs, failure to carry out repairs.
What can I do?
Harassment is a civil and criminal offence and if negotiations with your landlord
fail to stop the harassment there are a number of legal remedies available.
Taking legal action:
• It may be possible to get a court order (an injunction) to force your landlord
to stop the harassment and you could ask the court to award you
damages or compensation.
• You will need to show that your landlord or the landlord’s agent is
deliberately harassing you and their activity would be likely to make you
• It is always advisable to try to remedy the problem through negotiation
with your landlord. If this fails and you decide to take legal action, you will
need to seek legal advice.
Can my local council help?
• You can contact one of our Housing Needs Officers or the Private
Sector Housing Team on 01424 787500 for advice.
• Officers do have the power to prosecute your landlord (though they will
need strong evidence, and keeping a record of events, plus any copies
of any letters etc, will be essential to a successful prosecution)
• If the officers feel that there is not enough evidence to take your landlord
to court they may still be able to help by writing a letter to your landlord
and giving him an official caution.
Can I call the police?
• Yes. The police have a duty to protect you from violence and threats of
• Harassment is a criminal offence and the police may have the power to
warn and if necessary arrest your landlord.
• It is important to report incidents of harassment, as this may be useful
evidence if you decide to take legal action.
Illegal Eviction: for example, a landlord has forced an assured or assured
shorthold tenant out of his/her property without a court Order. The notice
period has to be between two weeks and two months depending on the ground
(s) which you are being evicted.
For (please contact one of our Housing Needs Officers for further advice)
Your Landlord cannot change the locks or force you out by other means
I HAVE A LOT OF BLACK MOULD ON MY WALLS
If you have a lot of black mould on your walls, it is more than likely that this is
being caused by condensation. Condensation occurs when warm, moist air
within the home comes into contact with a cold surface, such as a single-glazed
window or an uninsulated outside wall. Some of the moisture in the air turns
back into liquid water. It is a particular problem on cold days when it causes
water droplets to form on cold surfaces where there is little air movement to dry
it such as in corners, behind furniture and inside wardrobes. The lack of air
movement combined with the dampness allows mould to grow on any absorbent
surface such as wallpaper, plasterwork but also clothing and bedding.
Moisture is everywhere and in our every-day living: -
• People breathing and sweating
• Hot water when washing ourselves, clothes and dishes
• Drying Clothes
How can I avoid condensation?
• Reduce moisture – Do not dry washing indoors, cover cooking pot &
pans, Do not use portable gas heaters, always vent
tumble dryers to the outside air.
• Ventilate - Use mechanical extraction in the bathroom &
kitchen & keep the doors to these rooms closed
whilst in use, keep windows slightly open to allow
air movement, leave wardrobe & cupboard doors
Heating - In cold weather keep some low level background
Here are some helpful tips that you as a private tenant could do to help keep
your accommodation warmer and/or save money.
You may need to ask your landlord before carrying out some of the initiatives
Secondary Glazing – Use cling film or a purpose made DIY product and fix
over drafty and badly fitting sash windows – this will save you approx £25 per
year. You should still have access to one window in each room so that you can
still ventilate adequately.
Draft Proofing – Fit a nylon brush plate to the back of your letterbox and
keyholes – this will save you approx £10 - £20 per year.
Hot water tank – If you have not got an insulated jacket around your hot water
cylinder, you could purchase one, which will keep the water you have already
heated, hotter for longer.
Lighting – Low energy light bulbs use an average of a fifth of electricity and last
for approximately eight to ten times longer. This will save you approx £10.00
Central Heating – Average room temperature should be between 18 –21
degrees Celsius, by turning the thermostat down by 1 degree you can save up
to 10% of your heating bill.
Low cost/No cost measures
Curtains – Do not cover radiators. Close curtains at dusk and save
£15 per year.
Shelves - Fit a small shelve 50mm above the radiator to help push the
warm air into the room.
Televisions - Switch off rather than leaving on stand-by
Kettles - Only fill with the amount of water needed.
Toasters - Use less electricity than a grill (60 slices for 1 unit of electricity)
Every year in the UK some 30 people are killed and many others are affected by
Carbon monoxide poisoning from faulty gas appliances such as fires, central
heating boilers, water heaters and their associated flues, which are not installed
or maintained properly.
Carbon monoxide is invisible & has no smell but it can kill you.
• Never use a gas appliance if you think it is not working properly
• Never cover an appliance or block air vents or outside flues
• Never fit draught excluders or double-glazing to rooms containing a gas
appliance without providing suitable alternative ventilation
• If your gas appliance has yellow or orange flames, soot or stains around it,
this indicates there is poor combustion and should be checked by a
qualified gas engineer.
Gas Leaks – What to do if you smell Gas
• DO NOT turn any electrical switches on or off
• DO NOT smoke, strike matches or use naked flames
• DO turn the gas supply off at the meter
• DO immediately call the 24 hour Transco Gas Emergency Line – 0800
• DO open doors and windows to get rid of the gas
• DO check appliances – cookers, fires etc – for unlit gas, or if the pilot light
has gone out
• DO keep people away from the affected area
Your Landlord’s Responsibility
• Your Landlord has a legal obligation to have a safety check carried out on
all appliances, which they have provided by a CORGI-registered gas
engineer every 12 months.
• Your Landlord must issue a copy of the latest safety check record to
existing tenants within 28 days of the check being carried out, or to any
new tenant before they move in.
• Your Landlord must ensure that all gas appliances are serviced in
accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions or on an annual basis.
The Council is not responsible for the enforcement of the regulations. Please
contact us if you believe your landlord has not complied with the regulations; we
can give initial advice.
SAFETY OF FURNITURE & FURNISHINGS
If you are concerned about safety of furniture you can contact East Sussex
County Council Trading Standards, St Mary’s House, 52 St. Leonards Road,
Eastbourne, BN21 3BU, Telephone 01323 418218
If you are renting furnished accommodation, your landlord is responsible to
ensure that the furniture & furnishings that they are supplying is safe and meets
all the fire resistance requirements.
FIRE SAFETY ADVICE
FIRE KILLS BUT YOU CAN PREVENT IT!
Where there’s smoke there’s a fire!
Full information is available on the government’s Fire Kills website
However here are 10 Top Safety Tips
Fit a smoke alarm & check it regularly
Make a fire action plan so that everyone in your house knows how to
escape in the event of fire
Take care when cooking with hot oil & think about using
thermostatically controlled deep fat fryers
Never leave lit candles unattended
Ensure cigarettes are stubbed out & disposed of carefully
Never smoke in bed
Keep clothing away from heating appliances
Take care in the kitchen! Accidents whilst cooking account for 59%
of fires in the home.
Take special care when you are tired or when you’ve been drinking.
Half of all deaths in domestic fires happen between 10pm & 8am.
USEFUL TELEPHONE NUMBERS
• BEXHILL POLICE STATION 0845 6070999
• CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU 01424 215055
• CORGI (National Watchdog for Gas Safety) 01256 372499
• ESCC TRADING STANDARDS 01323 418218
• GAS – EMERGENCY SERVICE (Transco) 0800 111 999
• HSE GAS SAFETY ADVICE LINE 0800 300 363
• RENT OFFICER SERVICE 01273 829950
Rother District Council
Private Sector Housing Team 01424 787566
Leaflets in our Housing information series
1 What are your housing options?
2 Where to get Housing Advice
3 How to apply for social housing
4 Finding somewhere to rent privately
5 Low cost home ownership
6 What help will you get from the Council if you’re homeless?
7 A guide to the Council’s rent deposit scheme – scheme under review
8 Sanctuary – a guide for victims of domestic violence
9 Housing options for older people
10 Housing options for young people
11 What’s on for families
12 Housing Aid
13 Advice for Disabled Facilities Grant
14 Advice for landlords
15 Advice for private sector tenants
16 HMO licensing
17 Home Energy Efficiency Advice
We work with the Language Line – please ask for this assistance if you
need advice in your language