Private housing safety standards

If you rent your property privately, your landlord has a responsibility to keep it safe and properly maintained.

You can look at GOV.UK for information on your landlord’s responsibilities

There are specific regulations on smoke alarms. Private sector landlords have to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance. For full information on landlord's smoke alarm responsibilities, look at GOV.UK

There are also specific regulations on electrical safety which come into force on 1 July 2020 for new tenancies and 1 April 2021 for existing tenancies. The regulations mean that landlords must have property electrics checked at least every 5 years by a properly qualified person. The electrics must meet standards and landlords must give their tenants proof of this. For full information on landlord's electrical safety responsibilities, look at GOV.UK

If your landlord does not keep your property safe, you can report the safety hazard to us.

If you live in a house in multiple occupation (HMO) you can also report safety hazards to us.

You can check if your landlord has a licence for the HMO.

Report a repair or safety hazard

If you have a problem with a repair or hazard, you need to contact your landlord first.

If your landlord does not deal with the issue after you have contacted them, you can report it to us.

Once we receive your report, we will contact you to discuss the issue.

Depending on the type of issue, we can contact your landlord to tell them your concerns and ask them to confirm what action they are going to take to deal with the issue.

If your landlord agrees to make improvements, we may inspect your property once they are complete.

If your landlord does not make improvements, we will inspect your property and decide what action to take.


We will inspect your property using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHRS).

We categorise 29 different hazards based on their risk of causing harm.

A category 1 hazard poses the most risk, so we will take enforcement action to reduce it.

If we find a category 1 hazard, we might:

  • issue an improvement notice
  • fix the hazard ourselves and bill the landlord for the cost
  • prevent  people from using part or all of the property

A category 2 hazard poses a lower risk than category 1, and we will usually make recommendations of how to reduce the risk.

You can get more information on the HHRS in their guidance for landlords document

Contact information

Environmental Health
Harlow Council
Civic Centre
The Water Gardens
College Square
Harlow CM20 1WG
01279 446111