Private Rented Team
Plymouth City Council
Plymouth PL1 2AA
The Private Sector Housing Team works to improve housing conditions for people in Plymouth, protecting their health, safety and well-being. The team has a variety of enforcement powers available to ensure private accommodation in the city meets minimum standards. The main pieces of legislation are the Housing Acts and the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
The Housing Act 2004 introduced new enforcement options, to accompany the changes to our assessment methods and the introduction of a national licensing scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). For further information regarding the other changes, see the Housing Act 2004.
When possible we try to achieve improved standards through working with Landlords, Tenants, Leaseholders and Owner Occupiers, providing information, guidance and general support. However, in some circumstances we have to resort to using legal powers. These are as follows:
- Powers of entry - these allow us to obtain entry into property for the purposes of inspection when access is denied. Should we be obstructed we may obtain a warrant to enter from the courts. This allows to us force entry if we have to.
- Power to require information - we are able to serve notices requiring certain information to be given, for example about who owns a property. This enables us to act to improve the property by way of the other powers described.
- Hazard awareness notices - these will ensure that the owner/person responsible is aware of a hazard and the desirability of carrying out repairs/alterations (Housing Act 2004).
- Power to serve notices requiring works to be done - we can serve notices requiring work to be done to improve living conditions for occupiers and/or neighbours. The work we specify depends, of course, upon the conditions we find and what the law allows us to do.
- Powers to enter a property and undertake work - should work fail to be completed as required by a notice, we have the option to do the work and recharge the owner.
- Power to take over management of properties - this may be in for a number of reasons, including inability to issue a licence (where required), long term empty property, etc (Housing Act 2004).
- Power to close a property - this follows a detailed assessment to decide the best course of action to deal with a seriously substandard property. Closure might be required where improvements are too expensive or the property is beyond improving. A notice would require that the property be no longer lived in. (Housing Act 2004 Prohibition - allows prohibited use of part of a building and use by certain groups).
- Power to require demolition of a property - this is done in similar circumstances to closure.
Where a notice is not complied with we can pursue a prosecution.
We always aim to avoid legal action where it is possible. However, when circumstances require it we will take the action in the best public interest. Our Enforcement Policy describes how we conduct enforcement action, and this is summarised in a leaflet. Both documents are available below.