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This will depend on the seriousness and the effects of the failure. Informal action is normally taken in the first instance – they will offer 'advice' to encourage high standards. Where minimum legal requirements are not met formal action will be taken if informal action does not resolve the matter within a specified timescale.
Landlords receive an informal notice which has full details of the works and with category 1 and 2 hazards clearly set out. The expected completion dates will also be given. However, but where there is a category 1 hazard which causes a serious risk to the health and safety of the occupier, formal action will be taken immediately.
Formal action means:
For less serious hazards, Hazard Awareness Notices may be appropriate to bring to the attention of the landlord and tenant any defects and hazards that need to be addressed, together with recommended action.
For more serious hazards, Improvement Notices with schedules of work to remedy category one and category two hazards may be appropriate.Works must be completed within prescribed timescales and failure to comply can result in prosecution and/or the Council carrying out the works in default.
Prohibition Orders preventing occupation of all or part of a building maybe appropriate where, for example, there is serious overcrowding or other serious category one hazards exist.
Emergency prohibition can also be taken by a local authority to prevent occupation of part or all of a building where there is imminent risk of serious harm or Emergency Remedial Action can be taken to remove the hazard.
There are rights of appeal to a residential property tribunal against any of the above notices/orders apart from the hazard awareness notice.
There is a normally a charge for taking formal action which is currently and the charge rises each year depending on the rate of inflation. It reflects the expenses that councils incurs in taking formal action and is designed to encourage good practice among landlords and discourage landlords from waiting for formal action to carry out essential works.
All enforcement action will be carried out having regard to the 7 principles specified in the Statutory Code of Practice for Regulators made under section 23 of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006.
Economic Progress - Regulators should recognise that a key element of their activity will be to allow, or even encourage, economic progress and only to intervene when there is a clear case for protection.
Risk Assessment - Regulators, and the Regulatory system as a whole, should use comprehensive risk assessment to concentrate resources in the areas that need them most.
Advice and Guidance - Regulators should provide authoritative, accessible advice easily and cheaply.
Inspections and other visits - No inspection should take place without a reason.
Information Requirements - Businesses should not have to give unnecessary information or give the same piece of information twice.
Compliance and Enforcement Actions - The few businesses that persistently break regulations should be identified quickly and face proportionate and meaningful sanctions.
Accountability - Regulators should be accountable for the efficiency and effectiveness of their activities, while remaining independent in the decisions they take.
- Mark Baldwin
- Landlord Guide