Information for tenants

With Coronavirus (COVID-19) now affecting many areas of our services to the residents and businesses of Amber Valley, we are keen to keep you right up-to-date with the changes we are being forced to make. Read more about your council services.

Are you experiencing difficulties with your rented home? Thousands of households are happy in their rented home in Amber Valley, but a small proportion are of a poorer standard and give rise to complaints.

The council is responsible for addressing disrepair and housing standards in all rented property. The most common complaints relate to damp and mould and a slow response to fixing repairs.

We appreciate that some people fear being evicted if they complain to the council. We recognise this and we seek to provide advice to any tenant to tell them what the Council can do. We only contact the landlord with your permission or if the hazards are putting you at risk and we have to act. Many tenants just want some advice to be able to speak to their landlord or letting agent with the confidence of knowing what needs to be done to their home and we never hear from the tenant again.

We would always encourage tenants and landlords to speak to each other on a regular basis. Our officers frequently see minor issues escalating because of a breakdown in communication.

When a tenant makes a complaint to the council they will be advised that they should firstly report their complaint to the landlord in writing. In certain cases, this can offer some protection against retaliatory eviction, and is also good practice in all cases. Read an example letter.

Our officers will make an assessment of the hazards that could potentially put you, your family and visitors at risk. The council has a range of enforcement options that we can use. We will seek to work on a more informal basis with a landlord, but we are able to serve enforcement notices to require works to be completed within a specified period. The council currently charges £320 per notice to recover costs of serving notices. This decision was made following consultation with landlords attending out landlord forums who felt that the council should recover costs from landlords that fail to maintain their properties.

If you are experiencing problems with your landlord you should never withhold your rent. Whilst it might be tempting if the landlord is failing to respond this will put your tenancy at risk. The council's legal section can advise both tenants and landlords about harassment and illegal eviction.

If you want advice or assistance then please contact us on 01773 841335 or ehhousing@ambervalley.gov.uk

You can also contact organisations for help such as CAB, Derbyshire Law Centre and Direct Help & Advice.

Common problems

Dampness is a major problem to many houses and flats.  Dampness can cause mould on walls and furniture and make timber window frames, floors and skirting boards rot.  It also encourages the growth of house dust mites and can increase the risk of respiratory illness.  It can also damage wall plaster and may give rise to dry rot.

It is important to be able to tell the difference between damp caused by condensation and damp caused by other factors such as rising damp, rainwater coming in, defective plumbing or poor drainage.

New (2020) regulations require landlords to have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a person who is qualified and competent, at least every 5 years. Landlords must provide a copy of the electrical safety report to their tenants, and to their local authority if requested.

This means that all landlords now must:

  • Ensure the electrical installations in their rented properties are inspected and tested by a qualified and competent person at least every 5 years.
  • Obtain a report from the person conducting the inspection and test which gives the results and sets a date for the next inspection and test.
  • Supply a copy of this report to the existing tenant within 28 days of the inspection and test.
  • Supply a copy of this report to a new tenant before they occupy the premises.
  • Supply a copy of this report to any prospective tenant within 28 days of receiving a request for the report.
  • Supply the local authority with a copy of this report within 7 days of receiving a request for a copy.
  • Retain a copy of the report to give to the inspector and tester who will undertake the next inspection and test.
  • Where the report shows that remedial or further investigative work is necessary, complete this work within 28 days or any shorter period if specified as necessary in the report.
  • Supply written confirmation of the completion of the remedial works from the electrician to the tenant and the local authority within 28 days of completion of the works.

Further information can be found at 

By law landlords must carry out an annual gas safety check and provide tenants with a copy of the record of that check. New tenants should receive a copy before they move in and existing tenants should get a copy within 28 days of the annual check being done. If you don't have a current gas safety record please follow this guidance.

For further information visit gas safety on the Health and Safety Executive website.

All gas safety checks should be carried out by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer (formerly Corgi), further details are available at gas safe register.

The healthy and warm in Derbyshire booklet gives information about saving energy in your home and about keeping warm, well and healthy. A copy is available in a number of places, e.g. GP Surgeries, pharmacists, libraries, Ripley town centre office etc. or by calling Joanne Walker, energy officer on 01773 841332.

The council recognises that as energy prices rise it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep warm in the colder months. Over 50% of the private rented properties in Amber Valley are older properties with solid walls. These can be harder to keep warm. Many landlords have upgraded heating and insulation for tenants on benefits through the government's warmfront scheme.

Your landlord is under no obligation to provide gas central heating. Whilst this is the most cost efficient way of heating we cannot insist on it. The Housing Act 2004 requires that habitable rooms can be maintained at an adequate temperature. There will be a number of factors to consider but electric storage heaters or other fixed appliances may be sufficient.

The council has adopted a policy to enforce parts of the Tenant Fees Act because it thinks that prioritisation of the conduct of landlords and agents is important alongside regulating standards. This new legislation places specific restrictions on the charges that can be levied by both agents and landlords. Some parts are enforced by Derbyshire County Council Trading Standards and some elements by both organisations. The council is committed to working with the county council and sharing intelligence to stop unfair practices.

A policy has been approved by cabinet that gives councils the power to enforce any unfair practices that impose fees and charges that are not permitted. The council works closely with Derbyshire Law Centre and Citizens Advice and we would encourage any tenant that feels that they have been unfairly charged to contact the council or one of the other organisations.

View the enforcement policy in relation to the Tenant Fees Act.

Do you have a problem with your landlord or private rented property?

If you live in Amber Valley and are currently experiencing problems with your landlord or your private rented property then hopefully we can help.  Complete the online form below with as many details as possible and a member of our Housing Team will contact you.

Report a problem with your landlord or private rented property
Your details

 

Need further help or information?

Contact the team directly on 01773 841335 or email eh-housing@ambervalley.gov.uk