Standards and conditions

If you live in rented accommodation, your home should be of a decent standard, safe and comfortable.

Landlords have a duty to maintain their properties by carrying out necessary repairs and tenants also have a responsibility to keep the properties in a good condition. The standards you can expect, and your responsibilities as a tenant, will be set out in your tenancy agreement.

The Housing Standards Team will not always inspect every property that it receives a request for service for. Inspections and further intervention will be prioritised towards those properties which give rise to the most serious risks to the health and safety of the occupiers or any visitors to the property.

Before the Housing Standards Team will investigate service requests, the tenant MUST have followed the Council’s advice first see below: 

I am a tenant and want to make a complaint about disrepair to a property. What should I do?

Firstly, you should report any problems to your Landlord in writing. We’ve produced a sample letter to Landlord that you can adapt to suit your particular need. You are advised to request your landlord to acknowledge receipt of the letter but you must allow a reasonable time for your landlord to fix the problem. The time needed will be dependent on the urgency of the problem; however your landlord should be able to resolve most repairs within 28 days.

If the landlord does nothing, you could send a second letter, warning that you will contact the Housing Standards Team at Sefton Council if the repairs are not done by a certain deadline.

We would recommend that you send all correspondence through recorded delivery; there is a cost to this but it provides the proof of delivery. You may prefer to send an email or text to your landlord and again you should keep all copies of these messages.

Gas Safety

A gas safety certificate must be given to you at the start of your tenancy in the property. If you haven't received a gas safety certificate send a letter to your landlord before contacting the relevant authorities, we have produced a sample gas letter to Landlord for you. We would recommend that the letter is sent recorded delivery, there is a cost to this but it provides the proof of delivery. You may prefer to send an email or text to your landlord but you should keep copies of these messages.

 The gas safety certificate must be supplied by a registered Gas Safe Engineer. If you are unsure that he/she is registered you can check their details on the Gas Safe website .

If you have not received a certificate please contact Gas Safe or the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) . The certificate should be given to you by your landlord every 12 months and is produced by a registered Gas Safe Engineer who comes and checks your gas appliances.

As from 1 of October 2008 Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) are mandatory and required by law for all new tenancies after said date. If you have not received an EPC ask your landlord to produce one. The EPC should be produced every 10 years. From 1st April 2020, a property cannot be privately rented unless the EPC rating is E or above.

In brief, you must follow the process for all complaints -

  • Write a letter to your landlord.
  • If no action has been taken by your landlord, then you need to contact us after 28 days.  
  • We will write to you and your landlord stating that we have registered your complaint and tell your landlord that we have received a complaint and to find a resolution to the items of disrepair

In urgent cases

As a matter of urgency we will act in the following circumstances but you must contact your landlord first for a solution:

  • No hot water and heating (time of the year dependant)
  • Imminent structural collapse
  • Gas leaks or phone National Grid on 0800 111 999
  • Serious structural storm damage / Snow damage
  • No Water - phone United Utilities on 0845 746 2200
  • No electricity (Interruptions in supply not applicable)
  • No Gas (Interruptions in supply not applicable)
  • Unusable toilet (If there is only one in the property)
  • Burst water pipes
  • Fire alarm has become unoperative

If any of these cases are applicable phone your landlord immediately first. If your landlord does not act as a matter of urgency please phone Sefton’s Housing Standards Team on 0345 140 0845

I have written to my landlord and he/she has done nothing, what should I do?

If all else fails you can make a complaint to Sefton Council regarding disrepair issues. Phone 0345 140 0845 or alternatively use Sefton Council’s online service.

The person who holds the tenancy agreement must be the person who makes the complaint

The information we require from you is:

  •     Your name and telephone number
  •     The address of the property in question
  •      The landlord or managing agents name
  •      The telephone and address of your landlord
  •      Detail of the disrepair issues within the property
  •      The track and trace number for recorded delivery to your landlord (if applicable)
  •      A valid tenancy agreement – can be shown at the time of inspection

     A copy of the letter sent to your landlord – can be emailed to private.housing@sefton.gov.uk

You will be advised to make the complaint in writing to your landlord if you have not already done so. If you have written a letter you will be asked to send a copy of the letter to us.

What will be done next?

The housing standards team will assess the disrepair and send you and your landlord a letter and invite your landlord to telephone us about the situation and what they are intending to do about the disrepair. If the timescale of works is not satisfactory to us then we will consider serving a legal notice.

If we fail to hear from you within one month from the date of our letter we will assume that both parties are satisfied with the outcome and we will close the case.

The Landlord has not been in contact with you and the Housing Standards Team for resolution 

In this instance we may have no option other than to deal with the complaint in a formal manner and will issue a notice of entry under the Housing Act 2004 and inspect the property. Upon inspection a Housing Standards Officer will conduct a full assessment of the property on the 29 hazards under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System   as required by the Housing Act 2004.

Potentially, a legal notice could be served requiring the Landlord to carry out the works. If a notice is served on the landlord a charge will be levied to the Landlord. The enforcement fees and charges can be viewed here.

These are the problems most commonly assessed by the Housing Standards Service:

  • Dampness and mould growth
  • Heating and hot water
  • Crowding and Space
  • Entry by intruders
  • Falls on level surfaces
  • Falls on stairs
  • Electrical Hazards
  • Fire
  • Lighting
  • Domestic Hygiene, pest and refuse
  • Structural Collapse and falling elements
  • Food safety
  • Dangerous or decaying stairs

Once the disrepair issues have been assessed the Landlord will be given a timescale, usually 28 days (depending on the amount of remedial work), to complete the repairs and eradicate the hazards. If the Landlord fails to comply then Sefton Council will serve a notice requiring the Landlord to complete the works dependent on the category of the hazards. This notice will be charged to the Landlord. The enforcement fees and charges can be viewed here.

If the landlord continues to fail to carry out the repairs as indicated then the Council can proceed with a prosecution of the landlord for failing to comply with the Legal Notice or issue a Civil Penalty.

In exceptional circumstances the Council will carry out works in ‘default’. This means that we will arrange for a contractor to carry out the repairs and then we will invoice the Landlord for the cost of the works plus an administration fee.

What if I contact Housing Standards 3 months from the date of your letter?

The procedure will be followed again and a new case will be opened. We will not re-open the original case as it will have been considered closed due to you not informing us the work was not done.