Housing Complaints

Follow our step by step guide to help you resolve problems with your rented accommodation and find out how and what to do if your landlord does not rectify your poor housing conditions. 

 

What we can help you with

The Private Sector Housing service has responsibility for ensuring minimum standards are achieved in private rented housing. Through our work we hope to ensure that all housing within the private sector is in a good state of repair, is decent and is safe for the occupants to live in.

The team deals with concerns such as damp and mould, the provision of adequate heating, fire safety, provision of adequate kitchen and bathroom facilities, overcrowding and reducing the risk from slips, trips and falls.  We can take enforcement action against private landlords to ensure that work is undertaken to bring the property up to the required standard, if necessary.

Registered Housing Providers

If your property is rented through a Registered Housing Provider e.g. Cornwall Housing, Devon and Cornwall Housing, Ocean Housing, Coastline etc. please read the Registered Social Landlords document for advice.

If you want to check whether your landlord is a Registered Housing Provider please have a look at the list of Registered Providers.

Help to Solve Common Problems

For advice on what you can do to resolve common problems such as damp and mould please follow this link 

Find other sources of help and advice

Information for landlords

We recognise that sometimes poor conditions can be caused by a combination of defects within the property and tenant behaviour. For this reason we would like you to have access to the same resources as your tenants. Please feel fee to print off our leaflets and provide them to your tenant’s if they have already approached you either formally or informally about a concern about poor conditions with the property.

 

In the first instance you must contact your landlord or managing agent in writing, to advise them of the concerns you have and give them the opportunity to correct them. You should give them a reasonable amount of time to respond to your concerns, we would advise 14 days.

We have created a letter template which you my wish to use.

Download: Housing conditions letter template

We will require a copy of your letter and proof of postage.

If you send your correspondence by email, please forward a copy of the email from your 'sent items' box.

If you have any photographs of the problems within your property we would appreciate you sending some to us. This gives us a better picture of the extent of the problems you are experiencing and we may be able to identify what is causing the issues and what action may need to be taken.

Information for landlords

You should receive a letter or an email outlining the nature of the problems your tenants are experiencing. You will be given 14 days to make a response to the letter/email advising of how you intend to investigate and resolve the issues. You are not expected to make any repairs within the 14 days, however, if you wish to do so this may result in our officers not needing to visit. We have asked your tenant to forward us a copy of the letter/ email they have sent to you and the response you make. We will call the tenant back approximately 14 days after they made the initial complaint to check if a response has been received.

In certain circumstances the letter will come direct from us. You should, therefore, make your response to us.

 

Hopefully your landlord/agent will have contacted you to make arrangements to resolve the problems you are experiencing. If this is the case please let us know so we can either close the case or monitor the situation for a period of time to ensure the works are completed.

However, if, after following the self-help guidelines and writing to your landlord or managing agent, they are not intending to investigate or address your concerns, then please let us know. You will need to provide us with a copy of your letter/email to your landlord/managing agent as outlined in step 2 and any response that your landlord or letting agent has given you.

Once we receive a copy of the letter/email we will ask you to complete the disrepair form, using the link below.

Disrepair form

Your case will then be allocated to one of our officers who will make contact with you to discuss your case. It is at this point that a visit may be arranged.

Please note: We are obliged to notify your landlord of our intention to visit. If you have any concerns about this please discuss it with the officer when they contact you.

Information for landlords

Hopefully you will have had an opportunity to address the concerns raised in the letter/email that your tenant has sent you, and you and the tenant both agree that the issue has been resolved. If, however, you have been unable to proceed with making the necessary investigations or improvements, after the call back to your tenant after 14 days, we will be in touch.

A case officer will be assigned to the property and will start to liaise with both you and the tenant to undertake a site inspection.

 

What happens next

The officer will undertake an assessment taking into account what they saw on the day of the inspection. If they don't see it, they can't assess it.

The assessment can take a while to do depending on what they find, so they will not be able to give you any answers on the day, unless there is something that your landlord needs to do immediately.

There may be some recommendations that we make to you to try and help with the issues, e.g. cleaning mould off the wall, fixing any damage that you may have caused, etc. 

If your landlord was not present at the visit the officer may contact them to discuss what was found and what options there are to resolve the problems.

If the assessment shows that there is a category 1 or a band D category 2 hazard the appropriate enforcement action will be taken.

You will be sent copies of any notices served, with details of what work needs to be undertaken.

If works are required please ensure that you allow your landlord and the contractors access to the property to provide quotes and complete the work. If you are genuinely not available when they are proposing to visit, you must provide them with suitable alternatives.

If they need to come inside the property they should be providing you with at least 24 hours notice. For quotes/works to the outside of the property this may not be necessary, unless access to the area can only be gained by going through your property. We will not act as a go-between for arranging access.

If the work is on a notice with a deadline date, the officer will make contact with you to arrange access to sign off the works after this date has passed. Even if the works have not been done, please allow the officer access so they can see this for themselves.

Information for landlords

We are legally obliged to notify you of our intention to visit your property. You will be given at least 24 hours notice of the date and time of the visit, but usually more notice is given. If you are going to be present at the visit, please let your tenant know.

We do appreciate, however, that this might not be possible due to other commitments. If you would like us to contact you following the visit contact the officer using the details on the letter you received.

Our officers will be using the Housing Health Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to assess any deficiencies identified within the property.

The HHSRS Guidance for Landlords and Property Related Professionals will give you an overview of what we look for during the inspections and how we make our assessments.

We also strongly recommend that you join the Cornwall Responsible Landlord Scheme. This free service can support you in complying with the necessary standards required in the private rented sector. The Cornwall Rental Standard can be a useful source of information to help you to review what the case officer will be looking for and requiring you to do.

Following the visit, the officer will make their assessment. If the assessment identifies a Category 1 or Band D Category 2 hazard then the appropriate enforcement action will be taken. This may result in the service of an enforcement notice. These notices specify the works or actions required to remove the hazard and the timescale in which we expect this to be completed. There are also charges associated with the service of this notice.

Whilst you may feel able to undertake the works yourself, we would recommend that wherever possible you use competent and suitably qualified contractors.

At the end of the timescale the officer will contact the tenant and yourselves to revisit the property to look at the works which have been undertaken. If the notice has been complied with, it can be revoked and the case will be closed. If the works are not completed there are a number of options available.

If the work is going to be difficult to complete or additional problems are identified during the works we may be able to allow additional time to complete the work. This will only be an option if you keep us informed of these difficulties as they arise.

If no work has been carried out or the work is of such poor quality that the hazard has not been removed you may be subject to the issuing of a Civil Penalty or to prosecution.