Housing licensing, quality and enforcement
Licensing arrangements under COVID 19
Licensing conditions and timescales remain unchanged during the current pandemic. Please make every effort to comply while maintaining social distancing. We understand this may be difficult so if you are unable to comply please keep documented evidence of your efforts and these will be taken into consideration when considering further action. We are following government guidance and not carrying out any licensing compliance inspections for now, but will be resuming when it is safe to do so.
Likewise our licensing tariff will remain unchanged, but consideration will be given to your circumstances when the restrictions have been lifted. We will consider all applications to vary on a case by case basis if you think you have been disadvantaged by the current crisis.
If you have been unable to supply an up to date EPC due to current COVID-19 restrictions, we will use your most current EPC when determining the length of your licence. If when the restrictions have been lifted you can indicate that your property did meet the EPC criterion at the time of application, you can make an application to vary your licence. To do this you will need to provide an EPC of E or above within a reasonable time of the restrictions being lifted.
Information for Tenants
In line with our usual procedures, if you have a complaint regarding disrepair to your home, you must report this to your landlord or managing agent first. This is to allow them a reasonable opportunity to respond and address any identified disrepair issues.
If this does not resolve the problem and you need to report the matter to the council, then please see below for our current operating arrangements.
- Make a complaint via the online reporting form or call the Contact Centre on 01424 451066. (Please note call volumes are likely to be higher than usual so where possible please use the online reporting form)
- Anyone who is complaining about disrepair to their property will be contacted by telephone. This will be to confirm their complaint has been received and to obtain further information that may be required
- Further information required includes:
- a copy of your tenancy agreement
- evidence you have reported the matter to your landlord
- photographs of the disrepair you are reporting.
- We are undertaking housing inspections based on risk. You will be contacted by an officer who will discuss your complaint and gather more information on your discussions with your landlord regarding the issue. During this initial contact the officer will make arrangements with you how they can inspect the property whilst maintaining social distancing.
Information for landlords and managing agents
Managing agents and landlords should acknowledge and reply to complaints from tenants following their normal customer service procedures.
The National Landlords Association have provided guidance to advise landlords on how to respond to issues with maintaining their properties during this time. This can be found on their website.
Essential works, such as water supply, sanitation and heating failure will still need to be addressed. Landlords, their representatives and tradespeople should follow advice on social distancing.
Inspections already Completed
Any inspections carried out prior to 24 March 2020 will be risk assessed in the prescribed way using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. Where it is determined from this that formal action needs to be taken (e.g. an improvement notice or prohibition order), these notices will still be served.
The date for compliance will be considered taking in to account the current situation and the difficulties of completing works at this time. The ability to comply will be subject to ongoing review and in part based on the length of time restrictions remain in place.
Compliance with Formal Notices already Served
Any landlord currently subject to the service of a formal notice should contact the Housing Enforcement Team to discuss the extent to which they have been able to comply with the notice prior to restrictions coming into force.
Evidence will need to be provided of works done to date and what works remain outstanding.
Situations will vary depending on when any notice was served, when the compliance date is due and how long current restrictions remain in place.
Information for landlords
- Landlords, licence holders and managers who run licensed properties should continue to make reasonable efforts to comply with HMO licence conditions, particularly where this relates to gas and electrical safety, and testing of fire alarm systems and emergency lighting.
- We understand that it may be more difficult than normal to book contractors for routine testing and maintenance at this time. However, tenant safety is just as important now, if not more so, as many more people will be at home. Landlords need to do whatever they can to ensure that testing and routine maintenance carry on as normal or resume as soon as possible.
- Further information for landlords regarding rented property can be found on the National Landlords Association website.
What testing should I be doing?
- If you have a licence on your property, your licence conditions will tell you what type and frequency of testing you need to be doing. For all rented properties, gas safety checks must be kept up to date wherever possible. You may want to visit the Gas Safe website for more advice about this.
- If you have a house or building with an automatic mains powered fire alarm system, a full test of all components of the system should be carried out every 6 months, by a competent person (normally an electrician or fire alarm engineer). You should also do a weekly logbook test that includes at least one call point or detector/sounder in each zone of the system, and a visual check of the fire alarm control panel. Weekly checks can be done by your agent, or another appointed person who is competent and trustworthy. These weekly tests should be recorded in a logbook that is kept in a safe location on-site.
- A fire alarm contractor or suitably qualified electrician should be able to give you specific advice about what tests are needed for your particular system.
- If you are a landlord of a single household flat or house, you should make sure that there are working smoke alarms on each level of the property whenever a new tenancy starts. These must be kept in proper working order, and ideally should be mains powered and hard wired. Standard battery smoke alarms should be avoided, but sealed long life battery detectors are acceptable, provided they are kept in working order and tested periodically.
Will I get an extension on my licence conditions?
- We take the safety of tenants in Hastings very seriously so we will not be giving extensions of timescales to licensing conditions. Tradesmen are still allowed to carry out work where safety is involved. However if you are having problems, please keep records of attempts to engage contractors and we will take this into consideration when looking at enforcement action.
If you have enquiries about HMOs, rented properties or licensing conditions, you can contact the Housing Licensing Team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone on 01424 451031. We will endeavour to respond to all enquiries as soon as possible.
How our services are affected