Council authorities have both authority and duty to visit houses; both privately rented ones and especially council housing premises. Such visits are scheduled in advance and residents are informed ahead of the visit to expect a visit by the council authorities at a specified date and time. However, there may be uninformed visits and residents are expected to cooperate by allowing council authorities to carry on with the proceeds of their inspection.

What Happens At A House Inspection Council?

The council officer(s) will conduct an inspection of the property and take notes if they need to. If they find anything out of place or not up to Housing Standards, they will inform the resident and the landlord (if these are two separate individuals) and inform of their course of action. If the resident is a tenant, chances are that they will not be expected to bear the costs of any repair, maintenance or provision of safety essentials such as smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. It is in fact their landlords who will be informed by council authorities after the visit on the course of action to be taken as well as a due date by when it needs to be done.

If the inspection falls under The Housing Health and Safety Rating System, chances are the inspection may have taken place on the request of the resident to check their property to check the environmental health of their house. 

In this case, the resident must make sure that they are at home when the council authorities visit. It is not necessary that the officer who visits shares information of their report, however, a specialist report will be made on issues such as dampness in the property. In case of any hazards, they will consider the chances of harm, the degree of seriousness and any health risks that may affect the health of children and older people in the house.

Any inspections carried out will be drafted into a report which will be shared with the landlord for further action to be done. In case of emergency remedial action, the council can carry out works on behalf of the landlord and charge them for it. This will only happen if the council assesses that the prevailing conditions may cause serious harm to any member of the household.

In case of any hazards found in the property local authorities can take action to implement the following:

  • Serve a notice for remedial works to be carried out
  • Issue a prohibition order which restricts the number of permitted occupants in the property until remedial action is taken
  • Issue a hazard awareness notice
  • Take emergency action
  • Issue a demolition order

If landlords fail to make improvements as per the notice(s) issued by the council authorities they may face fines up to £5,000.

To analyse details, let’s explore the following areas:

  • Whether or not council authorities can visit a  house and the reason for it
  • Whether council offers can visit to check on home improvements
  • Whether council can visit due to council tax debt
  • Whether council can visit to check occupancy status

Can Council Inspect My House?

Yes, the council can inspect your house. The nature and purpose of this visit may vary. For instance, sometimes visits by council authorities are an informal assessment before a formal inspection is carried out for home improvement or extension work to be carried out.

The reasons for a council visit may include any other following:

  • Inspection or assessment prior to home improvement/restructuring/modification/extension tasks is planned.
  • Inspection or follow up on complaints of pest control.
  • Inspection or assessment in response to complaints by the tenant(s).
  • Inspection or assessment in response to complaints by the neighbours against the tenant(s). 
  • Inspection to check multiple occupancy status (if the resident claims to be a single occupant for the property).

There are times when the reason for council authorities visiting a council house is in response to a complaint filed by the resident(s).

When residents have complaints about their living conditions, or if the property that they are living in (whether it is privately rented or is part of social housing) is not fit for inhabitation, they may request the local council authorities to visit the premises especially if the authorities are expected to take any action int his regard. Sometimes when landlords are uncooperative about home improvements (those that may harm the health of tenants or cause external damage), they mask request council authorities to visit their house for inspection.

This is generally an informal visit followed by official health and environmental inspection under the Health and safety standards for rented homes (HHSRS

Can Council Visit To Inspect Home Improvements?

While a resident can decorate council houses, the premises is usually inspected in case of any major home improvement work such as rewiring or restructuring or installation of fittings. In some cases, the council provides you with a voucher when you move into a council house to purchase items for home decor. You may be able to use this voucher for specific items only. 

Certain home improvement tasks need to be carried out prior to home decor. These may include rewiring, extensive re-plastering or fitting central heating systems. You should make sure that there is a thorough assessment of the kind of home improvements that are required so that such work is complete before you start decorating your council house. In most cases, your council or social housing landlord will bear the expense of major home improvements.

The council may want to visit your house to inspect and assess the requirements for major home improvements especially if they will affect the structure of the house. In most cases, you will not be able to commence any work on the property before their inspection and approval. 

Find your local council to learn more about the specific guidelines that apply to your district.

Can Council Visit Me For Council Tax?

Unless your council tax is due, it requires alterations due to change in your personal circumstances or revaluation of your property or you are to be summoned for council tax arrears, council offices generally do not contact residents other than the time that their council tax bill is sent. This is usually a printed version of the bill that you receive through the post but if you require an e-version, you may request it from your local council office.

If your council tax payments are being made on time, chances are that there will be no further communication initiated by the local council office; unless an announcement is to be made. However, should you not pay your council tax bill on time, this is when you can expect to be contacted by the local council office.

They usually contact for clearance of council tax dues if you miss the due date and send you a reminder for payment to be made in the next 7 days. In case you do not make payment by then and miss another council tax payment, they will contact you by sending you a second reminder to clear your dues as per the same lead time of 7 days. The next time the council office contacts you will be with a court summons for clearance of council tax debt.

Can Council Visit To Check Occupany Status?

Yes, council authorities can come to check the occupancy status of your home especially when you claim single-occupant benefits. Someone can live with you in your council house as they are generally intended for eligible candidates and their families; whether they are dependants or non-dependants. However, if you intend to ask someone to live with you as a carer or a joint tenant, or you intend to sublet your council house, you must consult your tenancy agreement and discuss with your landlord/local council office prior to making any commitments.

If you are on Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, any changes to the number of people in your home might have an impact on the amount of benefit you were receiving prior to them moving in especially if they are expected to contribute towards the rent. 

If you are not on benefits, you only have to inform your landlord and council authorities of the addition of occupants to your household especially if they are expected to share the rent with you. There is a possibility that your tenancy agreement will need to be changed to adjust for joint tenancy. 

If you are under a Secure Tenancy or Fixed Tenancy agreement with the housing authorities, you may sub-let rooms in your council house; however, subletting of the entire council house is not allowed. You will find a clause in your tenancy agreement that confirms the same. Therefore, it is advisable not to add someone to your council house with the intention of subletting the premises.

Conclusion:

Council house inspection is a routine practice whether it is a privately rented house or under social housing. It is essential for residents to cooperate during such visits to make sure the inspection process runs smooth. Any action that is to be taken as a result of such visits is to be taken by the landlord. If landlords fail to comply, they can face up to £5,000.

FAQs: What Happens At A House Inspection Council?

What should I do during a home inspection?

Residents are required to cooperate with council authorities during home inspections and answer their queries. Should the residents have any questions regarding the visit as well, they should ask those from the visiting officers during the inspection.

Why does the council want to inspect my house?

Usually, the council wants to make sure that the property meets the Minimum Housing Standards and this is the prime reason for their visit.

What problems do home inspectors look for?

Home inspectors look for problems like faulty floors, wiring or plumbing, health hazards such as lack of smoke or carbon monoxide alarms etc. 

What is a red flag on a home inspection?

A red flag during a home inspection can include anything from structural defects, water damage, faulty electrical wiring or plumbing, as well as mould or pest infestation.

How long does a home inspection take?

This depends upon the size of the property, the nature of the visit and whether it is a routine visit or in response to a complaint.

References:

Landlord Advice & Documents | Tenancy Management

Health and safety standards for rented homes (HHSRS)

Complain to environmental health about private rented housing

Council want to inspect my property – Property118

Shelter Legal England – Local authority duties to inspect homes and assess hazards

Council housing: Types of tenancy

Occupancy rights

Can someone live with me in my council house?

Getting a council home

Council housing

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