Housing standards in the private sector

We have powers and responsibilities to ensure that housing conditions in the private rented sector meet the required standards.  All properties should be safe and suitable to be lived in and, if they are not, we can serve notices on a landlord requiring remedial works to be carried out. We can also help owner occupiers to improve their properties up to a decent standard.

What is private-sector housing?

Most people live in property in the private sector. These are properties which are not owned by public corporations, such as local authorities and housing associations. Occupants include owner-occupiers, lease holders and tenants. Properties can include flats, houses, bedsits, hotels, bed-and-breakfast accommodation, mobile homes and even house-boats.

Inspection of sub-standard or poor housing


We have powers to ensure that all rented accommodation is up to standard. Our primary role is to assess disrepair within privately rented dwellings. Our assessments are conducted under the Housing Act 2004 using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

If a tenant has a repair issue they must follow these steps to give the Landlord the opportunity to carry out any necessary repairs:

  • Put the complaint in writing to the Landlord by letter email or text message.
  • Allow their Landlord reasonable time to arrange and complete any works/repairs, depending on the nature of the complaint we recommend up to 4 weeks.

Please see this letter template to use for your complaint.


If the landlord has failed to respond within 4 weeks please contact us to arrange an inspection, please note we will only inspect with the landlord present.

Once we receive a complaint it will be referred to one of our officers who will contact you within 5 working days to discuss and arrange an inspection if required

The inspection will not inform or influence any application for re-housing with the Council unless there is a category 1 hazard present that cannot be rectified or reduced to a category 2 within 6 months.

Overcrowding Advice 

If you consider the property that you live in to be overcrowded then there is little that the Council's Housing Standards can contribute apart from providing advice on reconfiguring the accommodation's living arrangements in order to comply with basic standards.

The Homefinder Policy makes it clear that if you are lacking bedrooms then you will be prioritised accordingly on the housing register. Housing Standards will not override this Policy. This includes bedroom availability in relation to different gender and age ranges for under 16s

Where the bedrooms are considered to be too small, it may be necessary for you to attend to matters yourself, for example:

  • Acquire bunk beds where two single beds cannot fit into a bedroom
  • Acquire cabin beds to replace wardrobes
  • Relocate wardrobes/drawer units to other parts of the house
  • Relocate beds to other parts of the house.

Information on the Homefinder Policy.

Further information on Homefinder


Who should I contact about maintaining the house I own?

For advice and information, please see our Home repairs and maintenance pages.


What should I do if my landlord is harassing me or threatening to evict me?

If your landlord is trying to evict you without going through the proper procedure, or is making your life difficult by, for example, cutting-off your electricity or gas supply, then you should contact the Council's Homelessness Team . They have the power to prosecute landlords who harass or illegally evict their tenants.

I have condensation and mould in my house, can you help?

Yes, we can give you practical advice and have a helpful booklet: Treating condensation and mould.

Who deals with fire risk caused by upholstered furniture?

Somerset County Council's consumer protection service enforce the law relating to this.

Who deals with gas fires or boilers which are in a poor condition or badly-maintained ?

The health and safety executive. They have a telephone gas safety advice line on 0800 300363. 


Useful Information

 Private Sector Housing Strategy

 Private Sector Housing Fees and Charges

 The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 and Landlords & Tenants Guidance booklet

 Information on mould and how to tackle damp in private rented properties