Ceredigion County Council is the 'Local Housing Authority' for the County of Ceredigion. It consequently has certain statutory duties, obligations and powers designed to ensure that the standard, management and safety of dwellings in Ceredigion are properly regulated.
The Local Authority is under a general duty to establish, as far as is practicable, the condition of residential dwellings in its area, and, where it is apparent that there are conditions which might prove harmful to occupants of dwellings or which constitute a statutory nuisance, to investigate thoroughly those conditions and to take actions that will improve the dwelling to an acceptable standard. The Local Authority has powers to take action to ensure that occupiers of all dwellings, (of whatever tenure type), have accommodation that is of a decent standard. The Local Authority also has a duty to actively seek to ensure that all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO's) in its area are licensed and to monitor whether such properties are well managed.
There is a general requirement for the Local Authority to investigate circumstances in which there may have been a criminal breach of housing law, and to seek prosecution of such offences where this is in the public interest. Matters such as 'Illegal Eviction' or a failure to licence or manage properly HMO's in its area come under this requirement.
In keeping with its duties, the Local Authority is given powers to ensure that those in control of a property shall carry out - in a reasonable time - works or actions necessary to remove any deficiencies identified. Such matters are subject to an appeal process.
Having determined that a property has a 'Category 1' or 'Category 2' hazard present (following a full Housing Health and Safety Rating System assessment) it is under a duty and has the power respectively, to issue an Enforcement Notice that will result in the hazard being reduced to an acceptable level or in it being removed altogether.
The following such courses of action are available to the Local Authority from the Housing Act 2004:
- Serve an Improvement Notice
- Make a Prohibition Notice
- Serve a Hazard Awareness Notice
- Take Emergency Remedial Action
- Make an Emergency Prohibition Order
- Make a Demolition Order
- Declare a Clearance Area
The Local Authority may also consider whether other legislation may be more appropriate to use in the circumstances. For example, there are circumstances where it may be more appropriate to serve a Statutory Nuisance Abatement Notice under The Environmental Protection Act 1990 or require works to be done using powers from the Building Act.
The Local Authority have adopted an Enforcement Policy, which aims to ensure that:
- Decisions about enforcement action are fair, proportionate and consistent
- Local Authority officers apply current Government guidance and codes of practice to any assessments or judgements made