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Session 2003 - 04
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Other Bills before Parliament

Housing Bill


Housing Bill
Part 1 — Housing conditions
Chapter 1 — Enforcement of housing standards: general

1

 

A

Bill

To

Make provision about housing conditions; to regulate houses in multiple

occupation and certain other residential accommodation; to make provision

for home information packs in connection with the sale of residential

properties; to make provision about secure tenants and the right to buy; to

make provision about mobile homes; to make other provision about housing;

and for connected purposes. 

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and

consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present

Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Part 1

Housing conditions

Chapter 1

Enforcement of housing standards: general

New system for assessing housing conditions

5

1       

New system for assessing housing conditions and enforcing housing

standards

(1)   

This Part provides—

(a)   

for a new system of assessing the condition of residential premises, and

(b)   

for that system to be used in the enforcement of housing standards in

10

relation to such premises.

(2)   

The new system—

(a)   

operates by reference to the existence of category 1 or category 2

hazards on residential premises (see section 2), and

(b)   

replaces the existing system based on the test of fitness for human

15

habitation contained in section 604 of the Housing Act 1985 (c. 68).

 
HL Bill 71 53/3
 
 

Housing Bill
Part 1 — Housing conditions
Chapter 1 — Enforcement of housing standards: general

2

 

(3)   

The kinds of enforcement action which are to involve the use of the new system

are—

(a)   

the new kinds of enforcement action contained in Chapter 2

(improvement notices, prohibition orders and hazard awareness

notices),

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(b)   

the new emergency measures contained in Chapter 3 (emergency

remedial action and emergency prohibition orders), and

(c)   

the existing kinds of enforcement action dealt with in Chapter 4

(demolition orders and slum clearance declarations).

(4)   

In this Part “residential premises” means—

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(a)   

a dwelling;

(b)   

an HMO;

(c)   

unoccupied HMO accommodation;

(d)   

any common parts of a building containing one or more flats.

(5)   

In this Part—

15

   

“building containing one or more flats” does not include an HMO;

   

“common parts”, in relation to a building containing one or more flats,

includes—

(a)   

the structure and exterior of the building, and

(b)   

common facilities provided (whether or not in the building) for

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persons who include the occupiers of one or more of the flats;

   

“dwelling” means a building or part of a building occupied or intended to

be occupied as a separate dwelling;

   

“external common parts”, in relation to a building containing one or more

flats, means common parts of the building which are outside it;

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“flat” means a separate set of premises (whether or not on the same

floor)—

(a)   

which forms part of a building,

(b)   

which is constructed or adapted for use for the purposes of a

dwelling, and

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(c)   

either the whole or a material part of which lies above or below

some other part of the building;

   

“HMO” means a house in multiple occupation as defined by sections 217

to 222, as they have effect for the purposes of this Part (that is, without

the exclusions contained in Schedule 11);

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“unoccupied HMO accommodation” means a building or part of a

building constructed or adapted for use as a house in multiple

occupation but for the time being either unoccupied or only occupied

by persons who form a single household.

(6)   

In this Part any reference to a dwelling, an HMO or a building containing one

40

or more flats includes (where the context permits) any yard, garden, outhouses

and appurtenances belonging to, or usually enjoyed with, the dwelling, HMO

or building (or any part of it).

(7)   

The following indicates how this Part applies to flats—

(a)   

references to a dwelling or an HMO include a dwelling or HMO which

45

is a flat (as defined by subsection (5)); and

(b)   

subsection (6) applies in relation to such a dwelling or HMO as it

applies in relation to other dwellings or HMOs (but it is not to be taken

as referring to any common parts of the building containing the flat).

 

 

Housing Bill
Part 1 — Housing conditions
Chapter 1 — Enforcement of housing standards: general

3

 

(8)   

This Part applies to unoccupied HMO accommodation as it applies to an

HMO, and references to an HMO in subsections (6) and (7) and in the following

provisions of this Part are to be read accordingly.

2       

Meaning of “category 1 hazard” and “category 2 hazard”

(1)   

In this Act—

5

   

“category 1 hazard” means a hazard of a prescribed description which

falls within a prescribed band as a result of achieving, under a

prescribed method for calculating the seriousness of hazards of that

description, a numerical score of or above a prescribed amount;

   

“category 2 hazard” means a hazard of a prescribed description which

10

falls within a prescribed band as a result of achieving, under a

prescribed method for calculating the seriousness of hazards of that

description, a numerical score below the minimum amount prescribed

for a category 1 hazard of that description; and

   

“hazard” means any risk of harm to the health or safety of an actual or

15

potential occupier of a dwelling or HMO which arises from a deficiency

in the dwelling or HMO or in any building or land in the vicinity

(whether the deficiency arises as a result of the construction of any

building, an absence of maintenance or repair, or otherwise).

(2)   

In subsection (1)—

20

   

“prescribed” means prescribed by regulations made by the appropriate

national authority (see section 223(1)); and

   

“prescribed band” means a band so prescribed for a category 1 hazard or

a category 2 hazard, as the case may be.

(3)   

Regulations under this section may, in particular, prescribe a method for

25

calculating the seriousness of hazards which takes into account both the

likelihood of the harm occurring and the severity of the harm if it were to occur.

(4)   

In this section—

   

“building” includes part of a building;

   

“harm” includes temporary harm.

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(5)   

In this Act “health” includes mental health.

Procedure for assessing housing conditions

3       

Local housing authorities to review housing conditions in their districts

(1)   

A local housing authority must keep the housing conditions in their area under

review with a view to identifying any action that may need to be taken by them

35

under any of the provisions mentioned in subsection (2).

(2)   

The provisions are—

(a)   

the following provisions of this Act—

(i)   

this Part,

(ii)   

Part 2 (licensing of HMOs),

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(iii)   

Part 3 (selective licensing of other houses), and

(iv)   

Part 4 (interim and final management orders etc.);

(b)   

Part 9 of the Housing Act 1985 (c. 68) (demolition orders and slum

clearance);

 

 

Housing Bill
Part 1 — Housing conditions
Chapter 1 — Enforcement of housing standards: general

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(c)   

Part 7 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 (c. 42) (renewal

areas); and

(d)   

article 3 of the Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and

Wales) Order 2002 (S.I. 2002/1860).

(3)   

For the purpose of carrying out their duty under subsection (1) a local housing

5

authority and their officers must—

(a)   

comply with any directions that may be given by the appropriate

national authority, and

(b)   

keep such records, and supply the appropriate national authority with

such information, as that authority may specify.

10

4       

Inspections by local housing authorities to see whether category 1 or 2

hazards exist

(1)   

If a local housing authority consider—

(a)   

as a result of any matters of which they have become aware in carrying

out their duty under section 3, or

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(b)   

for any other reason,

   

that it would be appropriate for any residential premises in their district to be

inspected with a view to determining whether any category 1 or 2 hazard exists

on those premises, the authority must arrange for such an inspection to be

carried out.

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(2)   

If an official complaint about the condition of any residential premises in the

district of a local housing authority is made to the proper officer of the

authority, and the circumstances complained of indicate—

(a)   

that any category 1 or category 2 hazard may exist on those premises, or

(b)   

that an area in the district should be dealt with as a clearance area,

25

   

the proper officer must inspect the premises or area.

(3)   

In this section “an official complaint” means a complaint in writing made by—

(a)   

a justice of the peace having jurisdiction in any part of the district, or

(b)   

the parish or community council for a parish or community within the

district.

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(4)   

An inspection of any premises under subsection (1) or (2)—

(a)   

is to be carried out in accordance with regulations made by the

appropriate national authority; and

(b)   

is to extend to so much of the premises as the local housing authority or

proper officer (as the case may be) consider appropriate in the

35

circumstances having regard to any applicable provisions of the

regulations.

(5)   

Regulations under subsection (4) may in particular make provision about—

(a)   

the manner in which, and the extent to which, premises are to be

inspected under subsection (1) or (2), and

40

(b)   

the manner in which the assessment of hazards is to be carried out.

(6)   

Where an inspection under subsection (1) has been carried out and the proper

officer of a local housing authority is of the opinion—

(a)   

that a category 1 or 2 hazard exists on any residential premises in the

authority’s district, or

45

(b)   

that an area in their district should be dealt with as a clearance area,

 

 

Housing Bill
Part 1 — Housing conditions
Chapter 1 — Enforcement of housing standards: general

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the officer must, without delay, make a report in writing to the authority which

sets out his opinion together with the facts of the case.

(7)   

The authority must consider any report made to them under subsection (6) as

soon as possible.

Enforcement of housing standards

5

5       

Category 1 hazards: general duty to take enforcement action

(1)   

If a local housing authority consider that a category 1 hazard exists on any

residential premises, they must take the appropriate enforcement action in

relation to the hazard.

(2)   

In subsection (1) “the appropriate enforcement action” means whichever of the

10

following courses of action is indicated by subsection (3) or (4)—

(a)   

serving an improvement notice under section 10;

(b)   

making a prohibition order under section 19;

(c)   

serving a hazard awareness notice under section 27;

(d)   

taking emergency remedial action under section 39;

15

(e)   

making an emergency prohibition order under section 42;

(f)   

making a demolition order under subsection (1) or (2) of section 265 of

the Housing Act 1985 (c. 68);

(g)   

declaring the area in which the premises concerned are situated to be a

clearance area by virtue of section 289(2) of that Act.

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(3)   

If only one course of action within subsection (2) is available to the authority in

relation to the hazard, they must take that course of action.

(4)   

If two or more courses of action within subsection (2) are available to the

authority in relation to the hazard, they must take the course of action which

they consider to be most appropriate of those available to them.

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(5)   

The taking by the authority of a course of action within subsection (2) does not

prevent subsection (1) from requiring them to take in relation to the same

hazard—

(a)   

either the same course of action again or another such course of action,

if they consider that the action taken by them so far has not proved

30

satisfactory, or

(b)   

another such course of action, where the first course of action is that

mentioned in subsection (2)(g) and their eventual decision under

section 289(2F) of the Housing Act 1985 means that the premises

concerned are not to be included in a clearance area.

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(6)   

To determine whether a course of action mentioned in any of paragraphs (a) to

(g) of subsection (2) is “available” to the authority in relation to the hazard, see

the provision mentioned in that paragraph.

(7)   

Section 6 applies for the purposes of this section.

6       

Category 1 hazards: how duty under section 5 operates in certain cases

40

(1)   

This section explains the effect of provisions contained in subsection (2) of

section 5.

 

 

Housing Bill
Part 1 — Housing conditions
Chapter 1 — Enforcement of housing standards: general

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(2)   

In the case of paragraph (b) or (f) of that subsection, the reference to making an

order such as is mentioned in that paragraph is to be read as a reference to

making instead a determination under section 300(1) or (2) of the Housing Act

1985 (c. 68) (power to purchase for temporary housing use) in a case where the

authority consider the latter course of action to be the better alternative in the

5

circumstances.

(3)   

In the case of paragraph (d) of that subsection, the authority may regard the

taking of emergency remedial action under section 39 followed by the service

of an improvement notice under section 10 as a single course of action.

(4)   

In the case of paragraph (e) of that subsection, the authority may regard the

10

making of an emergency prohibition order under section 42 followed by the

service of a prohibition order under section 19 as a single course of action.

(5)   

In the case of paragraph (g) of that subsection—

(a)   

any duty to take the course of action mentioned in that paragraph is

subject to the operation of subsections (2B) to (4) and (5B) of section 289

15

of the Housing Act 1985 (procedural and other restrictions relating to

slum clearance declarations); and

(b)   

that paragraph does not apply in a case where the authority have

already declared the area in which the premises concerned are situated

to be a clearance area in accordance with section 289, but the premises

20

have been excluded by virtue of section 289(2F)(b).

7       

Category 2 hazards: powers to take enforcement action

(1)   

The provisions mentioned in subsection (2) confer power on a local housing

authority to take particular kinds of enforcement action in cases where they

consider that a category 2 hazard exists on residential premises.

25

(2)   

The provisions are—

(a)   

section 11 (power to serve an improvement notice),

(b)   

section 20 (power to make a prohibition order),

(c)   

section 28 (power to serve a hazard awareness notice),

(d)   

section 265(3) and (4) of the Housing Act 1985 (power to make a

30

demolition order), and

(e)   

section 289(2ZB) of that Act (power to make a slum clearance

declaration).

(3)   

The taking by the authority of one of those kinds of enforcement action in

relation to a particular category 2 hazard does not prevent them from taking

35

either—

(a)   

the same kind of action again, or

(b)   

a different kind of enforcement action,

   

in relation to the hazard, where they consider that the action taken by them so

far has not proved satisfactory.

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8       

Guidance about inspections and enforcement action

(1)   

The appropriate national authority may give guidance to local housing

authorities about exercising—

(a)   

their functions under this Chapter in relation to the inspection of

premises and the assessment of hazards,

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Housing Bill
Part 1 — Housing conditions
Chapter 1 — Enforcement of housing standards: general

7

 

(b)   

their functions under Chapter 2 of this Part in relation to improvement

notices, prohibition orders or hazard awareness notices,

(c)   

their functions under Chapter 3 in relation to emergency remedial

action and emergency prohibition orders, or

(d)   

their functions under Part 9 of the Housing Act 1985 (c. 68) in relation

5

to demolition orders and slum clearance.

(2)   

A local housing authority must have regard to any guidance for the time being

given under this section.

(3)   

The appropriate national authority may give different guidance for different

cases or descriptions of case or different purposes (including different

10

guidance to different descriptions of local housing authority or to local housing

authorities in different areas).

(4)   

Before giving guidance under this section, or revising guidance already given,

the Secretary of State must lay a draft of the proposed guidance or alterations

before each House of Parliament.

15

(5)   

The Secretary of State must not give or revise the guidance before the end of

the period of 40 days beginning with the day on which the draft is laid before

each House of Parliament (or, if copies are laid before each House of

Parliament on different days, the later of those days).

(6)   

The Secretary of State must not proceed with the proposed guidance or

20

alterations if, within the period of 40 days mentioned in subsection (5), either

House resolves that the guidance or alterations be withdrawn.

(7)   

Subsection (6) is without prejudice to the possibility of laying a further draft of

the guidance or alterations before each House of Parliament.

(8)   

In calculating the period of 40 days mentioned in subsection (5), no account is

25

to be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued or

during which both Houses are adjourned for more than four days.

9       

Consultation with fire authorities in certain cases

(1)   

This section applies where a local housing authority—

(a)   

are satisfied that a prescribed fire hazard exists in an HMO or in any

30

common parts of a building containing one or more flats, and

(b)   

intend to take in relation to the hazard one of the kinds of enforcement

action listed in section 5(2) or section 7(2).

(2)   

Before taking the enforcement action in question, the authority must consult

the fire authority for the area in which the HMO or building is situated.

35

(3)   

In the case of any proposed emergency measures, the authority’s duty under

subsection (2) is a duty to consult that fire authority so far as it is practicable to

do so before taking those measures.

(4)   

In this section—

   

“emergency measures” means emergency remedial action under section

40

39 or an emergency prohibition order under section 42;

   

“fire authority” means—

(a)   

a fire authority constituted by a combination scheme under the

Fire Services Act 1947 (c. 41);

(b)   

a metropolitan county fire and defence authority;

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