Housing enforcement options - a landlord's guide for the Harrogate area

We have a statutory duty to enforce a wide range of legislation whose main aim is to protect the health, safety and welfare of tenants, homeowners and the general public.

The legislation also seeks to improve the quality of the private rented sector's housing stock.

What we do

To achieve compliance with statutory requirements, our private sector housing team, where possible, work informally with owners, landlords and managing agents. Where an informal approach is not effective, or in high-risk situations, the team will consider the use of all relevant legislation to remove or reduce risks posed to the health and safety of occupants or other members of the public.

Where an officer deems a formal inspection is required, they are legally required to provide the owner and occupier with a minimum of 24 hours' notice that they intend to enter the premises  under powers of entry. Once a formal inspection has been completed, the inspecting officer will carry out a full assessment of the property under the housing health and safety rating system and will determine the most appropriate course of action.

Health and safety rating system

There are 29 hazards incorporated within the rating system. Scores are grouped into ten bands from A to J, with Band A representing the most severe hazards down to Band J representing those with minor health impacts. Hazard bands A to C are deemed category one hazards. The remaining bands are deemed category two hazards. We have a duty to take enforcement action where category one hazards are present, and have the power to take enforcement action if category two hazards are present.


The local authority will be guided by three main points when making an enforcement decision:

  • the housing health and safety rating system hazard rating
  • whether the local authority has a duty or power under the act to take action
  • the most appropriate way of dealing with a hazard having regard to the housing health and safety rating system enforcement guidance

We will seek to deter landlords from retaliatory eviction  - evicting a tenant when they have made a complaint - and do not consider that the removal of a tenant achieves compliance with any notice served. Tenants are protected from retaliatory eviction under the Deregulation Act 2015.

The private sector housing team works in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive who enforce gas safety legislation, Trading Standards who enforce the requirement to have an energy performance certificate, as well as the fire service, police and other sections of the council.

The service of an enforcement notice incurs a charge per hour, with a maximum per notice served. These are reviewed on an annual basis. To find out about our current charges, contact us

Certain notices served on a property will be registered as a land charge against the property until such time as they are complied with. Copies of any notices served will be sent to anyone with an interest in the relevant property, including tenants, mortgage providers and freeholders.

Enforcement under the Housing Act 2004

Where a landlord has not carried out repairs on an informal basis, or where the hazards and / or circumstances require more appropriate action, enforcement action will be taken. The following list is not exhaustive and should act as a guide.

Improvement notice

This notice sets out strict timescales for the works specified to be completed. Failure to comply with the notice is an offence for which we can pursue prosecution or a civil penalty. See below for more details. Failure to comply with an improvement notice can also result in us carrying out the works in default and charging the owner or landlord for all costs associated with this.

Hazard awareness notice

This notice is advisory, meaning it is not enforceable by us so there are no set timescales for the works to begin or be completed, and with no follow-up inspection. Its purpose is to advise the relevant parties of hazards present. It is often used for owner occupied properties or where the hazards are less serious. The service of a hazard awareness notice does not prevent further enforcement action from being taken in the future.

Prohibition order

This can be used where there are serious threats to the health and safety of occupants of a property, or visitors to it. It can be used to prohibit all or part of a property depending on the hazards identified. It can also be used to limit the number of occupants. Failure to comply is an offence, for which we could pursue prosecution or a civil penalty (see below).

Emergency action

This is used where it is considered that there is an imminent risk to health and/or safety. It can be used for category 1 hazards only. It allows us to either carry out immediate remedial action works to a property or serve an Emergency Prohibition Order which comes into force immediately.

Demolition orders and clearance

These options are used very rarely where category one hazards are present with an imminent risk to health and / or safety. Demolition orders can be used where a property is considered beyond repair at a reasonable cost, and clearance is used where a number of properties in an area pose immediate and/or significant risk.

Other legislation

Protection from Eviction Act 1977

This legislation provides an offence for illegally evicting or harassing a tenant. If it is believed an offence has been committed, we can decide to prosecute, and if found guilty, can lead to a maximum penalty of a term of imprisonment of up to two years or an unlimited fine or both.

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015

Failure to comply with this legislation, having smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors where required, may result in a fixed penalty charge of up to £5,000.

Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 (as amended)

This is designed to improve the least energy-efficient properties. All new tenancies from 1st April 2018 and all existing tenancies from 1st April 2020 must have an EPC rating of E or above, unless exempt. Failure to comply may result in a fixed penalty charge of up to £5,000.

The Redress Schemes for Letting Agency Work and Property Management Work (Requirement to Belong to a Scheme etc) (England) Order 2014

Failure for someone to become a member of a government-approved redress scheme (who is required to become of a member) may result in a fixed penalty charge of up to £5,000.

Environmental Protection Act 1990, Section 80

A notice can be served under this section if an officer is of the opinion that there is a statutory nuisance at the premises or the premises are prejudicial to health.

Building Act 1984

Section 59/60  

This is used to deal with defective drainage issues in existing buildings.

Section 64/65

This is used where sanitary conveniences are insufficient or in need of replacement and are considered prejudicial to health or a nuisance.

Section 76 

This used where the property is so defective as to be prejudicial to health. This notifies the person responsible of our intention to remedy the problem (works in default).

Public Health Act 1936, Section 45

This is used where there are defective sanitary conveniences due to their repair and/or cleansing ability. They must be in such a state as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance.

Public Health Act 1961, Section 17

This is used where any drain, private sewer, water closet, waste pipe or soil pipe has not been maintained and can be repaired for less than £250.

Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976

Section 16

This provides the power for us to request certain information about a property.

Section 33

This is used where services such as the water supply are due to be, or have been, cut off to a domestic property.

Section 29 

This is used to prevent unauthorised access to a building by getting the owner to board up any broken windows, doors etc, or by us carrying out the works in default.

Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949, Section 4

This is used where there is evidence of or harbourage of rats or mice at a property.


How and where to make an appeal can be found in the information enclosed with the notice.

Prosecution and civil penalties

Failure to comply with enforcement notices can result in us deciding to take further action. This is traditionally in the form of prosecution, however, the Housing and Planning Act 2016 introduced new powers to issue civil penalty notices for Housing Act 2004 offences.

As an alternative to prosecution, we can serve a civil penalty of up to £30,000 for the following offences under the Housing Act 2004:

  • section 21 - breach of a banning order
  • section 30 - failure to comply with an improvement notice
  • section 72 - mandatory licensing of houses in multiple occupation
  • section 95 - licensing under Part 3 of the Housing Act 2004
  • section 139 - failure to comply with an overcrowding notice
  • section 234 - breach of management regulations in respect of houses in multiple occupation

Houses in multiple occupation

There are a number of definitions of houses in multiple occupation, of which some properties require an houses in multiple occupation licence. We only have a mandatory licensing scheme. For guidance on whether your property requires an the licence, visit our website or contact us to speak to an officer.

Failure to apply for a licence for a property that requires one, failure to submit a valid application, or failure to submit a valid relicense application on expiry is a criminal offence. This could result in prosecution with an unlimited fine, a civil penalty of up to £30,000 and/or a rent repayment order. This offence could also affect the fit and proper person status of the manager or licence holder.

A breach of the houses in multiple occupation licensing conditions which are enclosed on the licence is also a criminal offence that could result in prosecution with an unlimited fine, a civil penalty of up to £30,000 and/or a rent repayment order. This offence could also affect the fit and proper person status of the manager or licence holder.

All houses in multiple occupation, including those that do not require a licence, must comply with the Management Regulations:

  • the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 (SI 372)
  • the Licensing and management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007 (SI 1903)

A breach of the Management Regulations is an offence under Section 234 of the Housing Act 2004. The penalty for non-compliance is either prosecution or a civil penalty of up to £30,000.

For more information and clarification on this enforcement guidance document, contact us

Further information

You can find more information and guidance on the health and safety rating system on the Government website.