Complaints about poor or substandard private housing

We can help with complaints about disrepair and poor housing conditions from private tenants and housing association tenants.

What are poor housing conditions?

These may include, among other things:

  • leaking pipes, gutters or roofs
  • risks of falls on stairways, in bathrooms and elsewhere
  • defective or inadequate heating or hot water systems
  • damp conditions and/or mould growth, due to condensation, rising or penetrating dampness
  • dangerous electrical wiring
  • unsafe gas appliances or installations
  • damaged or rotted windows, and inadequate means of ventilation
  • rodent or insect infestations
  • accumulations within properties that pose a health risk
  • disconnected power, gas or water supplies
  • blocked or leaking drainage
  • inadequate fire precautions, insufficient amenities or crowded conditions within multiply occupied properties
  • other hazardous conditions in and around a property

What you should do if you have a problem

As a tenant, you’ll only be liable for minor repairs and the landlord will have the duty to sort out the bigger problems.

If you have a problem you should report it to your landlord as soon as possible.  If your landlord doesn’t tackle the problem, or is taking too long, we can provide advice and where necessary, order the landlord to do the necessary repairs.

How to make a complaint

You can make a complaint by:

Information you’ll need to provide

It’s very important that you have the following information to hand when you contact us:

  • your landlord’s contact details, including name, address, phone number and email address
  • a scanned copy of the tenancy agreement, if you have one
  • a few photographs of the problem you want dealt with would be ideal
  • contact details for any agent, surveyor or other person who has been dealing with the matter on your landlord’s behalf

How we respond to housing complaints

Privately rented properties

We respond to all the complaints we receive. However, the response we give is prioritised (triaged) to take account of the risks involved and the vulnerability of the occupiers. This allows us to focus our efforts on the worst housing conditions and the people who most need our help.

We can’t visit every complaint that comes into us. Instead, each complaint is assessed by an environmental health professional.

We gather as much information as we can at the beginning so we can make a sound decision about what action is needed.

Once we have collected the information, we aim to make an assessment by the next working day.  If we can’t investigate a complaint because it falls outside our legal powers we’ll tell you.

After we have assessed a complaint we decide on the appropriate response as follows:

  • the highest risk and most urgent cases receive a full investigation including, if necessary, an inspection
  • lower risks complaints are dealt with by correspondence only, but are monitored to check that the landlord has dealt with them
  • where a complaint is judged to pose a minimal risk, we write to advise the landlord and the tenant, then close the case with no follow-up

Each complaint is carefully assessed on its own merits according to the information we have gathered from the complainant.

Housing associations (registered provider landlords)

We don’t normally carry out a full investigation / inspection in response to complaints from tenants of housing associations (HAs). This is because HAs have an infrastructure in place to deal with serious hazards and disrepair in their housing stock, as well as programmes of cyclical repair and renewal.

We maintain good links with our HA partners and if repairs are needed we correspond with them by email until we are satisfied that the complaint is resolved.

We follow up most of these to ensure the matter has been resolved, unless the problem is deemed to be of minimal risk.

Helping us to help you – what to do after making your complaint

Things we can’t help you with

Page updated on: 9 November 2021

Private Sector Housing


Hackney Service Centre
1 Hillman Street
E8 1DY


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