Environmental Health is a department of every local council. Their job is to ensure that conditions are safe in their area, including in rented accommodation.
You should make every effort to communicate with your landlord before you escalate to the Environmental Health department. Only contact them if you are having no success in getting a response or a repair from your landlord.
Usually, this means contacting your landlord at least twice: once to notify them of the problem, and once, in a follow-up letter, to tell them that if you don’t receive a reply/your problem is not fixed, you will be contacting Environmental Health.
In England and Wales, Environmental Health can assess your issue under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). In Scotland, they’ll refer to the Tolerable Standard.
They will be checking whether the issue is causing, or could cause, damage to your safety, physical or mental health. If so, they can take action to make your landlord address it.
The kind of issues they deal with include damp and mould; fire risks; asbestos; pests; unsanitary conditions (eg nowhere to cook or wash), problems with temperature, etc.
You can see more information on the Citizens’ Advice Bureau site, or from Shelter Scotland’s website.
You can copy our template letter, just adding in your own details.
Because they are a department of the council, contacting Environmental Health is not always the best route for council tenants. Broadly speaking, the council cannot take legal action against itself.
That said, even if your landlord is the local authority, in England the Housing Act 2004 still requires them to keep housing conditions in their area under review and to identify any repairs they may need to make under the Act (section 3(1)).
In Scotland, the local authority has a duty under section 85 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 to ensure that all houses in their district which do not meet the tolerable standard are closed, demolished or brought up to the tolerable standard within a ‘reasonable period of time’.
If you have had no luck communicating with your landlord directly, and you don’t think Environmental Health is the best option for you, you could consider:
Tools you can use