The Housing Act 2004 covers 7 parts. Only those parts considered relevant to landlords have been summarised here:

  • Housing Conditions and Enforcement
  • Definition of a House in Multiple Occupation
  • Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation
  • Selective Licensing
  • Interim and Final Management Orders
  • Empty Dwelling Management Orders

Housing Conditions and Enforcement:

Introduced a new method of assessing housing conditions.

  • It replaced the Fitness Standard (s604 Housing Act 1985 (as amended))
  • Will concentrate on health and safety in the home
  • Hazards will be identified and classified as either a Category 1 or a Category 2 hazard
  • The Council must take enforcement action to deal with Category 1 hazards and may take action to deal with Category 2 hazards
  • Private Sector Housing Officers will be looking for the following hazards in the home:

A: Physiological Requirements:

  • Damp and mould growth
  • Excess cold
  • Excess heat
  • Asbestos (and man-made fibres)
  • Biocides
  • Carbon monoxide etc
  • Lead
  • Radiation
  • Uncombusted fuel gas
  • Volatile Organic Compounds

B: Psychological Requirements:

  • Crowding and space
  • Entry by intruders
  • Lighting
  • Noise

C: Protection Against Infection:

  • Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse
  • Food Safety
  • Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage
  • Water supply

D: Protection Against Accidents:

  • Falls associated with baths
  • Falls on the level
  • Falls associated with stairs and steps
  • Falls between levels
  • Electrical hazards
  • Fire
  • Flames, Hot surfaces etc
  • Collision and entrapment
  • Explosions
  • Position and operability of amenities etc
  • Structural collapse and falling elements

New types of enforcement action and notices will be introduced. These include:

  • Serve an Improvement Notice - requires works to remove the hazard
  • Make a Prohibition Order - prohibits use of residential dwellings or part of a residential dwelling
  • Serve a Hazard Awareness Notice - advises of hazard and recommends remedial action
  • Take Emergency Remedial Action - where there is imminent danger, the Council may carry out emergency works
  • Make an Emergency Prohibition Order - where there is imminent danger, Council can prohibit use of property immediately
  • Make a Demolition Order - requires property to be demolished
  • Declare a Clearance Area - designated areas will be demolished and redeveloped

The owner of the property can appeal to a Residential Property Tribunal concerning each of the types of action, with the exception of the Hazard Awareness Notice.

Definition of a House in Multiple Occupation:

A building or part of a building is an HMO if it meets one of the following tests:

The Standard Test:

Any building in which two or more families/individuals share basic amenities.

The Self-contained flat test:

Any flat in which two or more families/individuals share basic amenities.

The Converted building test:

Any converted building which comprises of one or more units of accommodation that are not self-contained.

Certain converted blocks of flats:

Any converted building which comprises of self-contained flats that does not meet the 1991 Building Regulation Standards and more than one third of the flats are occupied.

Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs):

  • All HMOs with 5 or more people in residence, who do not form a single household, will be required to have a licence
  • Each licence will include a number of conditions that must be met
  • Each licence is granted for a maximum of 5 years
  • A licence can only be granted if the person proposing to hold the licence is a fit and proper person. There must be adequate management arrangements in place
  • If a landlord or owner fails to apply for a licence for an HMO that should have one, then the Residential Property Tribunal may order the landlord/owner to pay back the rent that was received during that period, and the Landlord may be subject to an unlimited fine through the criminal courts or a Civil Penalty of up to £30,000
  • The Council may also be able to declare that other types of HMOs will need to have a licence. This is called additional licensing

Selective Licensing:

This part provides the Council with the option to declare an additional licensing area. This can only be declared where an area has problems of housing demand or with anti-social behaviour. This will include all types of privately rented residential property, not just HMO's.

Interim and Final Management Orders:

These are used with regards to HMO's that must be licensed. If for any reason the Council is unable to issue a licence for a property and it continues to function as an HMO, the Council must serve an Interim Management Order.These are in force for up to 12 months while the reason for the licence being refused is resolved.If this reason cannot be dealt with and a licence still cannot be issued after 12 months, then a Final Management Order must be served which will last for up to 5 years.The service of a Management Order means that the Council will take on all responsibility for the HMO. This includes collecting the rents and carrying out any repairs that are required. The owner retains ownership but is unable to step in to deal with any management issues. This action is normally only taken in exceptionable circumstances.

Empty Dwelling Management Orders:

These are similar to Interim and Final Management Orders, but they only relate to empty properties.

Further Information:

View the full Housing Act 2004 (

Contact the Private Sector Housing Team: 01322 343152

Housing health and safety rating system

Information about the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)