Housing standards

We receive a range of complaints such as general disrepair and other tenancy related issues from privately rented tenants who live in Blackburn and Darwen.

Homes are inspected using the Housing 2004 Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) that comprises of 29 hazards including:

  • damp and mould growth
  • excess cold
  • personal hygiene
  • sanitation and drainage

These hazards are rated to give a hazard score.

Depending on the score, the hazard will fit into one of two (2) categories:

  • Category 1 hazard; or
  • Category 2 hazard

Category 1 hazards are the more severe hazards which require a rapid response.

In line with current national housing legislation, guidance and best practice the Council seeks to resolve issues informally without the need to take more legal action.

Damp and mould in rented accommodation

If you are a tenant and are experiencing damp or mould in your rented property, there are steps you can take to reduce condensation mould growth. Please see the information on the Care Network website.

If you are struggling with damp and/or mould you should notify your landlord using the disrepair letter template. If your landlord doesn’t respond within 14 days, please contact the Housing Standards Team.

If you are a landlord you are required to take action when a damp or mould problem in a property you rent out risks affecting your tenants’ health and safety and is caused by a property defect. You should also support tenants to reduce condensation. Please see the information on the Care Network website.

Preventing damp homes

If you have damp and mould in your home, you're more likely to have respiratory problems, respiratory infections, allergies or asthma. Damp and mould can also affect the immune system.

Those affected

Some people are more sensitive than others, including:

  • babies and children
  • elderly people
  • those with existing skin problems, such as eczema
  • those with respiratory problems, such as allergies and asthma
  • those with a weakened immune system, such as those having chemotherapy

Types of damp and mould

Rising damp

This is caused by water rising from the ground and into the home and it usually leaves a tidemark on the wall which can rise up to around 50 cm.

Penetrating damp

This is usually caused by missing roof tiles, defective pointing or cracked rendering, blocked gutters or cracked pipes. Other causes could be defective plumbing like leaking pipes, wastes or overflows. It shows up as a well-defined damp patch and is much more noticeable after a period of rainfall. Rising damp and penetrating damp require more specialist treatment.

Condensation

This is caused by too much moisture that can’t escape from the home. When air gets cold, some of this moisture appears as tiny droplets of water, most noticeably on your windows on a cold morning. This is condensation. It can also be seen on mirrors when you have a bath or shower, and on cold surfaces such as tiles or cold walls. Condensation, if left untreated, can lead to black mould growth.

How moulds can affect your health

These moulds can cause issues with your health as they produce allergens (substances that can cause an allergic reaction), irritants and, sometimes, toxic substances.

Inhaling or touching mould spores may cause an allergic reaction, such as sneezing, a runny nose, red eyes and skin rash. Moulds can also lead to asthma attacks.

Advice on preventing damp and mould in your home

  • Ventilate to remove moisture from the air – open windows and don’t completely block chimneys and flues – fit an air vent and make sure that you meet ventilation requirements for any gas appliances in a room.
  • Hang your washing outside to dry if at all possible. Damp can be made worse by drying on a radiator or in front of a radiator heater.
  • If you use a tumble drier, make sure it is vented to the outside or is a new condensing type.
  • Always cook with pan lids on, and turn the heat down once the water has boiled and only use the minimum amount of water for cooking vegetables.
  • When filling your bath, run the cold water first then add the hot - it will reduce the steam by 90% which leads to less condensation.
  • Don’t use your gas cooker to heat your kitchen as it produces moisture when burning gas.
  • Wipe your windows and window sills every morning to remove condensation. This is especially important in the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.
  • If you can afford it, a good dehumidifier can help. These help to keep your home dry but they use electricity so you might want to think about putting it on a timer.

If you have any concerns about damp or mould in your home, please raise it with your landlord or housing association.

Privately rented property that has fallen into disrepair

You can make a complaint to your landlord or agent if your property requires repairs.

Your landlord has a legal duty to carry out repairs that are their responsibility.

If you wish to make a complaint about disrepair at your property, the following steps must be taken before the Council can help.

Notifying your landlord/agent

  • Firstly you must ensure that the repairs you are reporting to the landlord or agent are the landlord’s responsibility and not as a result of how you are living in the property.
  • You must notify your landlord or agent of any repairs that you believe need attention. This can be done by notifying your landlord or agent of repairs in writing.

You can use our disrepair letter template giving your landlord or agent a reasonable timescale (14 days) to contact you to arrange to carry out the repairs.

Sending your disrepair letter

If you are sending a disrepair letter to your landlord or agent:

  • you can hand deliver your letter to the landlord or agent; or
  • send your letter by first class post asking the Post Office for ‘Proof of Postage receipt/certificate keeping it with your copy of the letter; or
  • Recorded delivery/ Registered Post keeping the receipt with your copy of the letter.

It is important that you keep a copy of the letter or email that you send to the landlord or agent as we will request to see this.

If your landlord or agent has not responded to your letter or email or carried out the repairs, then us on (01254) 585457 or by email to housingstandards@blackburn.gov.uk.

We can then arrange for someone to carry out an inspection of the property.

When contacting either by telephone or email, we need the following information from you:

  • your name
  • your address
  • a current telephone contact number
  • details of who lives at the property
  • name of your landlord or agent
  • address of your landlord or agent and telephone contact number if you have one
  • date your tenancy began; and
  • details of disrepair issues and their location

If you fail to provide all the information outlined above, be advised that there may be a delay in us being able to assist you with your complaint.

If you have not notified your landlord or agent we find it difficult to assist you with your complaint.

Please be aware that:

  • you have no legal protection as a result of your complaint
  • your landlord or agent will have to be made aware of the complaint concerning the alleged disrepair
  • We have a legal duty to notify your landlord or agent of any inspections that Housing Standards intend to carry out at the property
  • Our role is to help improve your current housing condition. We cannot assist you once you have vacated a property.
  • We have no bearing on any housing association application you may have
  • We are not able to assist in finding alternative living accommodation/housing or awarding priority for re-housing.