During the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic the Private Housing (Environmental Health) team will be dealing with the majority of the service requests the Council receives in relation to housing hazards over the telephone and by email. This will involve contacting landlords regarding issues that tenants raise and requesting repairs are completed. The team will then contact the customer again at a later date and if it is necessary arrange to carry out a full inspection of their home.
The Private Housing Enforcement Policy 2018 - 2022 will therefore not be implemented in full until a later date.
The team will still carry out visits to properties subject to a risk assessment if the housing conditions are of an urgent nature and pose a serious risk to the occupants. The team will not be carrying out any proactive visits in the short term.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has introduced non-statutory guidance for local authorities on enforcing standards in rented properties during the COVID-19 outbreak which can be found below and which the Private Housing (Environmental Health) team will be following.
Hull City Council’s Private Housing Enforcement Policy 2018-22, associated Fees & Charges and Civil Penalties policies set out how we investigate and deal with poor housing conditions in the city.
The Private Housing Enforcement Policy 2018-22 was agreed by the Council’s Cabinet in April 2018 and upheld by the High Court in March 2019 following a subsequent legal challenge.
The policy and supporting documents agreed by the Council’s Cabinet can be found below:-
The Council temporarily suspended the implementation of its Enforcement Policy pending the High Court decision and subsequent Court of Appeal application. These legal proceedings have now been concluded and the original content of the policy remains unchanged. The Council will now be introducing the Policy on 3 February 2020.
This will include the discontinuation of the Landlord Self-regulation scheme and landlord members will be contacted separately.
The existing Hull Accredited Landlord Scheme (HALS) has not been affected during this time period and the Council is still accepting new landlord members. HALS is being reviewed and any changes to the scheme will be introduced during 2020 with further information to follow.
The Fees & Charges policy is currently being reviewed which will also take into account another High Court decision (Gaskin v. LB Richmond) in relation to the setting of mandatory Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence fees. Confirmation of any revision of the existing HMO licence fees will be made available in due course.
Please use the link below to access the private housing environmental health page.
Why have the changes been made
As the existing policy (2012-16) had expired it was necessary to review the document and take account of recent changes in legislation.
A ‘drop in’ event was held at the Guildhall on 21 February 2018 setting out the main proposed changes. The invitation was emailed to-
- Humber Landlords Association (HLA)
- National Landlords Association representative
- Over 500 private landlords where the Private Housing (Environmental Health) service held an email address
- Registered housing providers who are represented on the local Operational Group meeting with properties within the city
- Ward Councillors
- Tenants/residents groups
The invitation email advised that the new policy would be considered by the Cabinet in April 2018 and provided a feedback form which could be used by interested parties’ to submit any feedback – this was requested by 16 March 2018
The feedback collated following the 'drop in event' can be found in the document below -
Our Cabinet met on 23 April 2018 to discuss the report and proposed policy changes. Cabinet agreed that our Private Housing Enforcement Policy 2018-22 and associated Fees & Charges Policy 2018-19 should be approved with the proviso that the implementation date for the scheme be deferred pending the update of the current Accreditation scheme, subject to if the new scheme is not in place by the end of June implementation should proceed.
What is changing
The table below details the main changes that have been proposed
|Existing policy||Proposed policy change||Reason for change|
|Informal working with landlords in first instance unless imminent risk or landlord has history of non-compliance||Removal of informal stage; service of statutory notice (some statutory notices i.e. Housing Act 2004 have a chargeable fee)||Protection for tenants against being served notice by landlord; protection for six months when we serve statutory notice (Deregulation Act 2015 introduced)|
|Prosecution and/or works in default for consideration as action where non-compliance of a statutory notice||Introduction of civil penalty charges as a further option –charges agreed within Yorkshire & Humber area
Rent repayment orders – recovery of rent from landlord
Landlord database and Banning Orders
|Ability to make civil penalty charges and rent repayment orders introduced by the Housing & Planning Act 2016 (also Landlord database and Banning Orders)|
|Mandatory HMO licensing – five or more persons sharing facilities, three storey properties only||Mandatory HMO licensing – five or more persons sharing facilities, to remove requirement for property to be three storeys; setting of bedroom sizes
Licence fees to be reviewed
|Government announcement December 2017 – changes effective 2018|
|Our Private Housing (Environmental Health) service does not currently charge for all services it provides to landlords e.g. copy of plans or other documentation||Fees and charges policy to be introduced||Clear guidelines as to what services will have a fee/charge from April 2018|
|Accreditation & Self-regulation scheme||Discontinue current self- regulation scheme
Review and launch of Hull Accredited Landlords
|Scheme – introduction of annual fee to landlords Review of schemes – changes in 2018-19|