Public health and housing

What do Inverclyde Council do?

The Public Health and Housing Team is located within the Environmental and Public Protection Service. 

Many public health and housing matters are dealt with using the law of Statutory Nuisance. This deals with the unreasonable interference with the ability of someone to enjoy their property. It is subjective, or a matter of judgement.

Statutory Nuisance cannot deal with lower level annoyance, frustration or inconvenience and cannot be used for safety related issues. It cannot take into account the needs or wishes of a particularly sensitive person, instead looking at how it would affect any normal member of the public.

Examples of Statutory Nuisance include:

  • Waste accumulation - rubbish, particularly rotting waste, on common, private domestic property (e.g. garden, common close)
  • Water ingress to your property or dampness
  • Smells in houses from another house or business.
  • Bonfires causing smell in housing
  • Dust from external sources
  • Lighting issues (e.g. shining in to the house from outside)
  • Drainage/sewage related issues
Whilst overgrown gardens may be unsightly, this is not a matter for enforcement by the Environmental and Public Protection service, as overgrown gardens do not constitute a public health nuisance.

The team are involved in housing standards because of the close relationship between housing conditions and health.  They can assist with housing problems where an occupier is suffering as a result of disrepair and provide information and advice to co-owners to help them maintain their property including serving a legal notice to ensure work is carried out.  They will provide guidance on the following:

  • Disrepair in buildings (regardless of tenure)
  • Disrepair in privately rented property
  • Water ingress/dampness in houses
  • Lack of heating in rented accommodation
  • Lack of hot water in rented accommodation
  • Electrical safety fears in rented accommodation
  • Gas safety fears in rented accommodation
  • Domestic asbestos concerns
  • Landlords failing in their duties

How to report a public health or housing standards issue

If you have concerns or enquiries regarding any of these issues you should contact the Customer Service Centre, in confidence, for advice and assistance from Inverclyde Council's Public Health and Housing team, using the contact details on this page. 

Anonymous public health and housing service requests will be investigated; however, that investigation will be limited as we won’t be able to experience how the problem is affecting you which helps us do more to help. To allow us to fully investigate your complaint you should, if applicable, provide us with:

  • Your name, address and if possible a contact telephone number
  • The address where you think the problem is coming from, if you know, and the type of nuisance or housing defect
  • When and for how long the problem normally occurs and if it’s severity varies.
  • The way the nuisance or housing defect affects you

Statutory nuisance

Inverclyde Council has a duty to investigate potential statutory nuisances (a nuisance covered by the Environmental Protection Act 1990) and serve a statutory notice (abatement notice) on anyone causing a statutory nuisance.  A statutory nuisance is any situation which could be prejudicial to health or a nuisance to the aggrieved party.

Officers from Public Health and Housing require to witness the existence of a statutory nuisance and may have to visit you at home in order to do this.  Officers have the power to enter premises to carry out investigations. Where nuisance conditions are witnessed by officers they will issue a statutory notice on the people responsible to require the removal of the nuisance within a specified time.

Penalties for not complying with a statutory notice

Failure to comply with a notice may result in work being carried out in default by the Council to address the problem and the costs of this work recovered from  those responsible ; serving a fixed penalty notice; or referring the matter to the Procurator Fiscal.

Tolerable Standard

The tolerable standard is minimum standard that any house has to meet in order for it to be fit to live in.

A house meets the tolerable standard if it:

  • is structurally stable
  • is substantially free from rising or penetrating damp
  • has satisfactory provision for natural and artificial lighting, for ventilation and for heating
  • has an adequate piped supply of wholesome water available within the house
  • has a sink with a satisfactory supply of both hot and cold water within the house
  • has a water closet available for the exclusive use of the occupants of the house and suitably located within the house
  • has an effective system for the drainage and disposal of foul and surface water
  • has satisfactory facilities for the cooking of food within the house
  • has satisfactory access to all external doors and outbuildings.

The tolerable standard also includes provisions of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 which means a house must also:

  • have satisfactory thermal insulation
  • have an electrical installation that is adequate and safe to use
  • to have a "waterless closet" will also become an acceptable alternative in certain circumstances.

Enforcing the tolerable standard

Where houses are found to be in a substandard condition, a poor state of repair or fail to meet the requirements of the housing standard relevant to the tenure of the property, Inverclyde Council has the option of intervening in a number of ways including serving a range of Notices requiring work to be carried out, to deal with the issues.

If, despite the intervention by the Council, a house is below tolerable standard and should be demolished the Council may serve a Closing or Demolition Order to prevent it being lived in.

How we help deal with Housing issues is explained in our scheme of assistance (see 'housing advice and assistance' link on this page).

New powers introduced by the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 known as “missing shares powers” allow the Council to take action to allow the majority of owners in a common property to apply to the Council to request that it pay missing shares of maintenance costs into the co-owners maintenance account where owners will not or cannot afford to pay their share. There are specific requirements that the majority of owners must comply with for a missing share (or shares) to be paid and must be agreed by the Council before maintenance works are instructed. It is intended that these statutory powers will be used where major maintenance works are identified and not for minor works such as gardens, paths or fences in isolation.

Where a missing share is paid owners will be required to put in place a maintenance plan. The plan will specify when and how maintenance is to be carried out and will require to be implemented over a 5 year period.

Houses in multiple occupation

Inverclyde Council's licensing team are responsible for the licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). The Public and Health and Housing team are involved in applying the licensing conditions with other relevant parties including Building Standards and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.