Northumberland County Council > Housing > Private sector housing

Private sector housing

Information regarding Private Sector housing including disrepair, HMO advice, immigration inspectios and drainage

The Environmental Health team deals with owner-occupied and private rented properties, and are responsible for the enforcement of legislation relating to housing conditions, drainage issues and public health matters.

Housing Conditions in the private rented sector

We offer a service to private tenants, home owners and landlords.  The Environmental Health team can help you with:

  • Poor housing conditions which affect your health, safety or well being
  • Assessing the property under the Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
  • Electricity, gas or water cut offs
  • Faulty heating systems
  • Damp & mould growth problems   
  • Overcrowding
  • Licensing and poor conditions in houses in multiple occupation (HMO)

Your property must be dry, safe and structurally stable.  It must have adequate heating, drainage, lighting, ventilation, toilet and bathing facilities.  It should meet minimum health and safety standards.

Our aim is to encourage high standards of accommodation, repair and good management in the private rented sector.  Where necessessary we will enforce the legal standards which apply to housing conditions.minimum health and safety standards.

When a repair needs doing, the tenant must first tell the landlord as soon as possible and ideally in writing (keep a copy for yourself) or if it is an emergency repair by phone.

You must give the landlord a 'reasonable time' to carry out the repairs reported.  There is no hard and fast rules about how long work should take, it depends on the urgency of the job.

If you are a tenant and the repair isn't done in a reasonable time, even after informing the landlord, DO NOT STOP PAYING RENT.  Contact us and we can carry out a housing inspection under the Housing Act 2004.

Formal Inspection

Where necessary we can carry out a full housing inspection this is called a Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS) inspection.  A time and date will be arranged with you to carry out the inspection.  We are legally obliged to contact the landlord first to advise them that a formal inspection will be carried out.

The HHSRS inspection involves inspecting all rooms within the property and an external inspection of roofs and walls etc. You will be informed of any actions taken and a copy of any notices served.

From 1st April 2013 a charge applies to all the Housing Act 2004 notices and orders served by the Council.  A full list of charges click on the link below.

Click here for charges

Immigration Inspections

People moving into Northumberland to live from a country outside the EEC have to confirm that they are moving into accommodation that is of a suitable standard that will not be made overcrowded by their arrival.

A named individual normally has to sponsor the person(s) moving into the area and this individual or sponsor is asked by the immigration authority for proof that the property being moved into is suitable.   The survey is designed to ensure that the accommodation meets the following criteria :-

  • the minimum housing standard under the Housing Act 2004
  • is in a reasonable state of repair, and
  • has sufficient space to accommodate both the existing occupiers and any additional people who propose to live there.

If you require a immigration inspection please call 0845 600 6400 and we will then send you a form to complete.  Details of the current occupants and details of the person(s) moving will need to be given with all dates of birth.  A current CP12 gas certificate must also be seen if there are any gas appliances in the property.

There is a charge for immigration inspections carried out.  Click on link below for a full list of charges.

Click here for charges


Private sewers and lateral drains have transferred ownership from private individuals to water and sewerage companies (from 1st October 2011). The transfer includes all drains and sewers that are connected to the current public sewerage system.

In the Northumbrian Water area the change will see 13,500 kilometres of private sewer pipes on top of the 16,000 kilometres of public sewers they already look after being taken over by Northumbria Water.

We believe the transfer is good news for customers. It will provide greater clarity on ownership and responsibilities, and lead to less disputes with property owners. 

It is thought that private sewage pumping stations will transfer ownership by October 2016. Private sewage works and the sewers and lateral drains upstream of these sewage works will not change ownership.

For further information including videos and answers to some frequently asked questions please click on link below:-.

Remember you are still responsible for the section of pipe that only serves your property and is inside the property boundry.  If a blockage occurs in a section of pipe that is shared or outside the boundry of the property then the matter should be passed to  Northumbria Water on the number below.  If you are unsure where the blockage is located then contact Northumbria Water on the number below who will investigate.

Northumbria Water - Customer Services  0845 717 1100

Any other advice you require regarding housing condition, immigration inspections or private drainage then contact 0845 600 6400

Private Sector Housing Useful Links


Gas Safety - Tenants  (external link to the HSE webpage)

Gas Safety - Home Owners  (external link to the HSE webpage)

Gas Safety - Landlords / Letting Agents   (external link to the HSE webpage)

Problems with condensation and mould growth (pdf)