Minimum energy efficiency standards
Private rented properties must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E or better to be rented out. You can find an energy certificate on the Government website.
If your rented property has an EPC rating of F or G then it must not be rented out without a valid exemption. You can find guidance for landlords, including exemptions, on the Government website. These regulations are actively being enforced by the council, and failing to comply can result in a fine of up to £5,000.
Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
The HHSRS is the risk assessment-based method used by inspecting officers to assess housing conditions. It assesses the risk to health and safety posed by hazards such as falls, fire, cold and damp and mould.
Officers will assess the likelihood of someone being harmed over the next 12 months and how serious that harm could be. The most serious hazards are known as Category 1 hazards and the council has a duty to take action on these. Less serious hazards are known as Category 2 hazards and the council has the power to take action where it feels necessary.
When taking action, the council will follow its Housing Enforcement Policy. In most cases work will be requested informally. If the landlord does not take timely action, then a formal enforcement notice is likely to be served. We will charge for serving a formal notice and failure to comply is an offence, liable to a fine or prosecution.
More information is available in the Housing Health and Safety Rating System Landlords Guide.
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
Under the smoke and carbon monoxide alarm regulations, at least one working smoke alarm must be fitted on each storey of a rented property, and a carbon monoxide alarm must be fitted in every room containing a fixed combustion appliance.
Landlords are also required to ensure that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are repaired or replaced once they are informed, and the alarms are found to be faulty.
You can find more information on the smoke and carbon monoxide alarm regulations in the Government’s guidance for landlords and tenants.
These requirements are the minimum, and further fire precautions may be required where a hazard is found or where the property is occupied as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). Where a hazard is assessed then the Private Sector Housing team will require fire precautions in line with the National Housing Fire Safety Guidance. View the section above for more information on hazards (assessed under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System).
Further advice for landlords and letting agents is available from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.
The Homes Act
The Homes Act was brought in to make sure that rented homes are safe and healthy and free from things that could cause serious harm. Where this is not the case, tenants can take their landlord to court under the Homes Act and the court can make the landlord carry out repairs. The court can also make the landlord pay compensation to the tenant.
Contact the Private Sector Housing team if you wish to discuss your concerns. You can view our Homes Act guidance giving further information.
Electrical safety regulations came in on 1 June 2020 and require landlords to have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a qualified and competent person at least every 5 years. Landlords have to provide a copy of the electrical safety report to their tenants, and to their local authority when requested.
The Regulations apply to new tenancies from 1 July 2020, and existing tenancies from 1 April 2021. Full details are provided in the Government guidance.
If you have a disrepair on the property, you should report it to your landlord or agent in the first instance, in writing.
It is important you report it straightaway, as if the problem gets worse because you didn’t report it and it causes further damage, then your landlord or agent may say that you are responsible for any damage caused. Keep a record of all your contact with the landlord or agent about the repair, and chase up the repair with them if they don’t take any action.
As a tenant you may report issues to your landlord or agent such as:
- problems with heating or hot water
- repair issues with baths, showers, sinks or basins
- faulty electrics
- broken gutters, pipes or drains
- broken parts of the property, for example windows, doors, ceilings, roof, chimney, internal staircase
- repairs in hallways shared with others or staircases in a block of flats
If you are unsure what to write to your landlord or agent then you can view a sample letter on the Shelter website which may help you to ask for a repair.
You can also use this online checker to find out how to get something fixed by your landlord or letting agent and what to do if they are not responding to your requests.
If your landlord or agent does not fix the problem, then report it to us with a copy of what you have sent your landlord or agent, and we can follow it up. Fill out the housing conditions complaint form to report it to us.