Housing Standards

What we do

Environmental Health Housing Standards deal primarily with private rented housing, reacting to complaints from tenants about poor housing conditions and properties that may be hazardous to live in.

The service aims to improve standards of health and safety in private rented property generally, and Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

Assessing housing conditions

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is used to assess housing conditions.

The HHSRS is a risk based approach to identifying defects in dwellings and of evaluating the potential effect of any defects on the health and safety of occupants.

Hazards are assessed on the likelihood of an occurrence that could result in harm and the potential severity of the outcome if it did occur. A formula is used to score the hazard and this will determine the category of the hazard.

The Council has a duty to deal with category one hazards and a discretionary power to deal with category two hazards. Actions include informal hazard awareness notices, formal improvement and prohibition notices, plus specific provisions for deal with urgent hazards.

Any action taken by the Council will be in accordance with the Council's Housing Enforcement Policy.

Landlords of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) also have additional responsibilities relating to the management of the property.

Tenants should initially report any defects to the landlord in writing, giving them the opportunity to deal with the problem. If the matter is not rectified within a reasonable timescale, they should contact us for further assistance.

For further information on HHSRS, please see Reducing the Risks (a short leaflet published by the ODPM), or for more detailed information see Guidance for Landlords and Property Related Professionals.

What we can do to help you

Issues we can help you with include:

Poor housing conditions

Private sector housing stock is inspected by Environmental Health Housing Standards staff to ensure that it provides a safe and healthy environment in which to live. An assessment is carried out under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) and where unacceptable hazards exist, action is taken to minimise them. Usually this involves the owner or landlord carrying out necessary repairs or improvements.

Help and assistance is available for those who are elderly or disabled and on low income from Homelink.


A property is overcrowded if either the room standard or the space standard is exceeded. It can also be assessed using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

Room standard

  • No more than two persons of opposite sexes who are not living together as man and wife should have to share the same room.
  • Children under the age of 10 are excluded and the room should be a room that is normally used as a sleeping room.

Space standard

  • No more than the permitted number of persons to sleep in the dwelling having regard to the number and size of the rooms.
  • This relates to rooms normally used as living or sleeping rooms.
  • Children under the age of one are not counted and those between one and 10 years old count as half.
  • Rooms of less than 50 sq ft are not to be used.

The permitted number is based on the following.

No of rooms Occupants
1 2
2 3
3 5
4 7
5+ 2 per room
Floor area (sq feet) Occupants
110 2
90 to 109 1
70 to 89 1
50 to 69 0.5