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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 10/07/2007
Annexe 2 to Appendix N



Private Sector
Housing Enforcement Policy

1. Introduction § Complaints from private sector tenants who contact the Council complaining about deficiencies found in the properties they live in;
§ Complaints about private sector properties that are causing problems for neighbouring occupiers;
§ Requests for service from private sector landlords;
§ Requests for service from owner occupiers. § Identifies and inspects houses in multiple occupations (HMOs) by carrying out surveys of the district and prioritising inspections by focusing on high risk HMOs.
§ Operates a compulsory HMO Licensing Scheme for High Risk HMO’s.
§ Inspects licensed caravan sites for compliance with their site licence conditions.

2. Principles of Good Enforcement 3. Approach to enforcement action § No action where complaints or allegations of breaches in housing legislation are unsubstantiated or formal action is inappropriate in the circumstances;
§ Verbal advice;
§ Verbal request for action;
§ Written request for action;
§ Written warning of formal action if faults are not corrected. § Service of appropriate statutory notices;
§ Undertaking works in default of a statutory notice;
§ Undertaking emergency remedial works;
§ Issuing formal cautions;
§ Prosecution. i) The seriousness of the hazard;
ii) Whether the Council has a duty or a discretionary power to take action;
iii) The individual's or company's past history in terms of compliance;
iv) The Officers confidence in the management of the property or premises;
v) The consequences of non-compliance in terms of risk to people, property or the environment;
vi) The likely effectiveness of the various enforcement options; and
vii) The risk to public health or the health and safety of the occupant(s). i) the specified works have not been completed within the required timescale and no acceptable representations are made to extend the timescale; or
ii) the Council considers that reasonable progress is not being made for completion of an action specified in an improvement notice; i) There is sufficient and reliable evidence that an offence has been committed;
ii) Obstruction or assault is involved;
iii) There appears to have been reckless disregard for the health and safety of the occupants;
iv) There are public interest factors.
v) Consideration of personal circumstances of the offender;
vi) The past history of the offender;
vii) The attitude of the offender towards the offence;
viii) The likelihood of a significant sentence;
ix) The need to deter.

4. Housing Legislation 4.1 The Housing Act 2004 § The action should be proportionate;
§ Tenure;
§ Multiple hazards may indicate a run down property;
§ The vulnerability of the current occupants and regular visitors;
§ Whether or not the occupancy is likely to change;
§ Social exclusion;
§ The views of the occupants;
§ The landlord’s ability or willingness to undertake remedial action;
§ Compliance history;
§ The effect of the action on the local community;
§ The potential alternative uses for the building. § Where conditions present a serious threat to the health and safety of the occupants and remedial action is considered unreasonable or impractical e.g. due to cost or where works cannot be carried out with the tenant in residence;
§ To specify the maximum number of persons that should occupy the dwelling where it is too small for the actual household in occupation;
§ To specify the maximum number of persons who should occupy the dwelling where there are insufficient facilities for the numbers in occupation;
§ To prohibit the use of the dwelling by a specified group (until such time as improvements are carried out) where a dwelling is hazardous to some people, but relatively safe for occupation by others;
§ In an HMO, to prohibit the use of specified dwelling units or common parts. i) Interim Management Orders (IMOs) - An IMO transfers the management of a residential property to the Council for a period of up to 12 months;
ii) Final Management Orders (FMOs) – A FMO transfers the management of the house to the Council for a period of up to 5 years. i) Interim EDMO – this transfers the management of the property to the Council for a period of up to 12 months and creates a duty on the Council to secure that the dwelling becomes occupied;
ii) Final EDMO – this may be made to replace an Interim EDMO where the Council considers it necessary to secure occupation of the dwelling; Final EDMOs may last up to 7 years. 4.2 Other Legislation § Demolition Order – Section 265 § Clearance Area - Section 289 · Dampness or condensation resulting in mould growth;
· Extensive water penetration;
· Condition of mobile homes. · Circumstances leading to the alleged harassment and eviction;
· The conduct of both the landlord and occupant;
· The reliability and standing of the witness. 4.3 Charge for Enforcement Action · Hazard awareness notice
· Improvement notice
· Prohibition order
· Emergency remedial action
· Emergency prohibition order
· Demolition order 4.4 Prosecution · Where there is a failure to comply in full or part with statutory notices;
· Where there is a persistent failure to comply with HMO licence conditions;
· Where the owner of a licensable HMO fails to obtain a licence;
· Where there is a persistent failure to comply with the HMO Management Regulations;
· Cases of illegal eviction and/or harassment;
· Where there is a persistent failure to comply with site licence conditions for mobile home sites.


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APPENDIX A

Enforcement Concordat

Openness

We will provide information and advice in plain language on the rules that we apply and will disseminate this as widely as possible. We will be open about how we set out our work, including any charges that we set. We will discuss general issues, specific compliance failures or any other problems with those experiencing problems.

Helpfulness

We believe that prevention is better that cure, and we are therefore committed to working with landlords and business, to advise on and assist with compliance. We will provide a courteous and efficient service and our staff will identify themselves by name. We will provide a contact point and telephone number for further dealings with us and we will encourage landlords and business to seek information on compliance matters from us.

Applications for approval of licences for dwellings will be dealt with efficiently and promptly.

Wherever possible we will ensure that our enforcement services are effectively coordinated to minimise unnecessary overlaps or time delays.

Complaints Procedure

The Council has a well publicised complaints procedure that can be followed.

You are invited to initially write complaints to:-

If the Head of Environmental Services is unable to deal with your complaint, the Council’s corporate complaints procedure will be explained to you.

If you think you have been unfairly treated by the Council, ultimately you can ask The Local Government Ombudsman to investigate.

Proportionality

We will only require action that is proportionate to the risks involved. We will take account of all the circumstances of the case to minimise the costs of compliance. However we must comply with the law where necessary.

Consistency

We will carry out our duties in a fair, equitable and consistent manner. While inspectors are expected to exercise judgment in individual cases, we will have arrangements in place to promote consistency, including effective arrangements for liaison with other authorities.

Procedures

Advice from an officer will be put clearly and simply and will be confirmed in writing, on request, explaining why any remedial work is necessary and over what timescale and making sure that legal requirements are clearly distinguished from best practice advice.

Before formal enforcement action is taken, officers will provide an opportunity to discuss the circumstance of the case and, if possible, resolve points of difference, unless immediate action is required (for example, in the interest of health and safety).

Where there are rights of appeal against formal action, advice on the appeal mechanism will be clearly set out in writing at the time the action is taken (whenever possible this advice will be issued with the enforcement notice).

How to contact us

We can be contacted in writing or by calling in person:-





























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