Housing should provide an environment that is as safe and healthy as possible. Poor housing conditions can be a major cause of accidents and ill health.
Tackling problems of poor housing to protect the health, safety and welfare of the occupants is a key environmental health priority. The Housing Act 2004 has strengthened the position of EHPs in working to ensure that everyone has a decent home to live in.
EHPs working in local authorities focus primarily on helping tenants living in private sector housing, by requiring landlords to carry out necessary repair or improvement works.
The English Housing Survey Profile of English Housing 2013, published in July 2015, shows that in 2013, 2.8 million dwellings (12%) had at least one Category 1 hazard, of which 460,000 (2% of the total stock) had two or more of these hazards. The most common types of such hazards were falls, affecting 1.6 million (7%) dwellings, followed by excess cold present in around 1.0 million homes (4%). The private rented sector was most likely to have any Category 1 hazard (17%), in comparison with other tenures. It also shows that in 2013, around 4.8 million homes (21% of all dwellings) failed to meet the Decent Homes standard. Non decent homes were far more likely to exist in privately rented homes (30%) than in other tenures.
Many homes fail the Decent Homes standard because of problems such as disrepair or outdated fittings, poor sound insulation etc. Others have serious hazards which, even if they are not Category 1 hazards, can pose a risk to health. Particular risks are associated with houses converted into flats - houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). EHPs also help owner-occupiers by giving advice and arranging grants or other financial assistance for repairs or improvements.
As well as those working for local authorities, there are EHPs working in the housing sector as consultants and trainers, and in housing associations.
The CIEH has produced a number of publications on housing, both on its own and with partners.
Government Housing Strategy
In November 2011 the Coalition Government published its strategy for housing - Laying the Foundations: A Housing Strategy for England. The CIEH is disappointed with the strategy, believing that it fails to tackle some of the most pressing housing issues facing the country such as the quality of decent, affordable accommodation in the private-rented sector, increasing homelessness and rising rents.
Reports on enforcement activity