We appreciate that regulation of the private rented sector is a complex area of the law and that this can leave landlords and tenants confused as to what is required to ensure that a property supports good health and wellbeing. This page will explain what laws and systems we apply to ensure that private rented accommodation supports the Council's wider aim of health improvement. If the issues below do not answer your question, please get in touch with us.
I'm a tenant - what happens when I complain to you?
Housing conditions within properties can result in hazards to the occupier(s) and also visitors to the premises. Some hazards can affect all ages of the population and other hazards have more of a detrimental effect on a specific age group. Risk assessments are always carried out from the perspective of the most at risk group being in occupation - this method is prescribed in the guidance for the HHSRS. There are 29 separate hazards specified in the system and we will assess disrepair under the hazard categories provided. If you would like to find out further information regarding this, you can read our short guide on the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (see downloads). Example HHSRS risk assessments are provided here, courtesy of DASH services. Following the assessment of a property under the HHSRS, Housing Enforcement officers have legal power to intervene to bring about an improvement in standards. You can find out more about when and why we do this on our enforcement of standards page.
Occasionally officers may use powers outside of the Housing Act 2004 to deal with complaints. These may include power relating to statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act (1990), Section 80 & the Building Act 1984. This legislation does not rely upon risk assessments but rather the officer's judgement as to whether or not the matter being inspected is serious enough for be prejudicial to health or a nuisance (these are legally defined terms dependent on years of case law). We can use these powers to cause a landlord to address an issue where they are legally responsible for it. Legal responsibilities for repair are covered on our repairs page.
What about fire safety?
What are the gas safety requirements for my property?
- Make sure an annual gas safety check is carried out on all appliances (e.g. boilers, fires, cookers, water heaters), flues and pipe work provided by the landlord. Make sure safety checks are carried out by a Gas Safe registered contractor registered to carry out the works requested.
- Ensure a record is kept for two years
- Make sure evidence is provided to all tenants within 28 days of the checks
- Make sure new tenants are provided with a gas safety record
Landlords are not responsible for the maintenance of installations and appliances owned by tenants and flues solely provided for these appliances. You can check whether a contractor is registered on the Gas Safe register web site or by telephoning 0800 408 5500. You can also request a free gas safety check. Please click here for the HSE's landlord gas safety page which will provide more in depth information .
If you can smell gas, please contact National Grid on 0800 111 999. Please note gas safe engineers working on behalf of national grid may disconnect appliances or your supply if they are concerned about safety. They will not fix the appliance. If you are left without heating following disconnection on safety grounds, we can help. Please contact us using the disrepair report form on our disrepair page
If you are the person having control of a licensed private rented property within Doncaster and gas is supplied to the house, you are legally required to produce to the local housing authority annually for their inspection a gas safety certificate obtained in respect of the house within the last 12 months.
If your property is not required to be licensed, you are still required to obtain an annual gas safety certificate, but there is no need for you to submit a copy of this to Doncaster Council unless requested to do so.
You can find further information on submitting your gas safety certificate on our web page Licensed properties- How to submit your annual gas safety certificate
What about carbon monoxide?
As part of a routine property inspection, you should look for:
- Gas flames which are not blue and starting show an orange tinge
- Sooty or black stains on appliances or on the wall above appliances
- Tenants complaining of prolonged flu like symptoms (headache, dizziness, fatigue etc).
Should you notice any of the above, contact your landlord or gas safe engineer immediately & turn off the appliance in question.
What about standards implied through landlord licensing?
Some of our conditions are mandatory conditions, meaning that the Government has made it law that we must apply them to certain licences. This can include conditions relating to smoke detection, gas safety and waste for example. There are proactive inspection regimes for all the licensing schemes in Doncaster however we will also attend in response to a complaint. It's important to remember that failing to comply with a condition is illegal although unless the matter is very risky and involves a high degree of negligence, we will seek to work with landlords to achieve compliance. See our enforcement page for more information about how we make legal decisions
What about electrical safety?
What about standards and the law in relation to tenancy management?
Are there different standards to be met in HMOs?
HMO fire safety
Is my property overcrowded?
- The Statutory Overcrowding Standard under the Housing Act 1985.
- The crowding and space standard, assessed under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System
Under the Statutory Overcrowding Standard, overcrowding can be caused by too many people living in a dwelling, and is dependent on the size of the habitable rooms. If two people of the opposite sex have to sleep in the same room the accommodation will be overcrowded unless the two people are:
- A married or cohabiting couple, or
- At least one occupant is under ten years old.
The number of people of the same sex - unless they are a same sex couple - who can sleep in one room is restricted by its size. Rooms that are counted as space for sleeping include living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and the living area of an open-plan kitchen/living room. For the space and floor area calculations:
Children under one year old are discounted (0 persons)
Children aged from one to 10 count as a half a person
Anyone aged over 10 counts as one person
As a general rule:
- 1 room = 2 people
- 2 rooms = 3 people
- 3 rooms = 5 people
- 4 rooms = 7.5 people
- 5 or more rooms = 2 people for each room
The floor area of a room also determines how many people can sleep in it:
- Floor area 110 sq feet (10.2 sq metres approx) = 2 people
- Floor area 90 - 109 sq ft (8.4 - 10 sq m approx) = 1.5 people
- Floor area 70 - 89 sq ft (6.5 - 8.3 sq m approx) = 1 person
- Floor area 50 - 69 sq ft (4.6 - 6.4 sq m approx) = 0.5 people.
Overcrowding may also be assessed under the Crowding and space hazard which is one of the 29 hazards as detailed in the HHSRS. The guidance outlines the ideal where, depending on the gender mix: “a dwelling with one bedroom is suitable for up to two people regardless of age; two bedrooms for up to four people; three for up to six people; and four for up to seven people. Living rooms and kitchens are also considered. Whether a dwelling is actually overcrowded depends on the age and circumstances of the family in it.” A dwelling may not match the ideal, but unless it results in a Category 1 hazard being identified, our decision to act is discretionary. If you think you or your family are living in overcrowded conditions, contact us and we will try to help you. We may be required to remedy 'statutory overcrowding' through the service of a legal notice on the property owner.
Is smoking permitted in private rented accommodation?
In most cases, restrictions on smoking in rental accommodation are contractual matters which should be agreed between landlords and tenants. Properties that are rented to exclusive occupiers i.e. bedsits, flats and houses can be smoked in, unless the tenancy agreement states otherwise. However, in properties with communal areas e.g. HMOs, there are situations where smoking is banned by law.
The Smoke Free laws apply to the common parts of an HMO building if the common parts are:
- open to the public, or
- used as a place of work by more than one person (even if the persons who work there do so at different times, or only intermittently)
Common parts include entrance lobbies, stairwells, lifts, corridors plus any facilities/areas shared by the occupants of more than one household. So, for example, if the property is split into bedsits, the common parts would include any kitchens, bathrooms or living/dining areas that are shared by more than one household.
The wording 'open to the public' implies that there is open access to the public through an unlocked door. Therefore a block of flats with an open entrance or unlocked communal entrance door would be considered 'open to the public' and the smoke free legislation would apply. However, any residential property with a locked front door either controlled manually or via a door entry system would be considered private.
If the common parts of the building are not open to the public, the smoke free legislation will apply if the common parts are used as a place of work by more than one person (including voluntary work). This could apply to workers such as cleaners etc. who are specifically employed to work in the common parts of the residential property. The question of whether the common parts are used as a place of work by more than one person will be a question of fact and degree. If entry to the common parts is irregular or ad-hoc (such as parcel deliveries, fast food deliveries, supermarket shopping deliveries, house removal firms and estate agents) it will be discounted as work.
- HHSRS short guide
- Download (701KB - DOC)