Home Improvement Policy

Version Number: 3.1
Policy Owner: Head of Investment


1. Aim of policy

1.1. City West recognise that secure tenants have the right to carry out improvements to their home by virtue of Section 97 of the Housing Act 1985.

1.2. The Tenants Guarantee extends this right to assured tenants of self-contained accommodation. Other residents do not have the right to make improvements. While City West will allow improvements, before carrying out such improvements the tenant must apply for written approval from City West Housing Trust. This approval will be subject to the criteria detailed in this policy, which will not be unreasonably withheld.

1.3. When a tenant has made an approved improvement to their home, they may wish to exercise their right to seek compensation when ending their tenancy. This will be assessed subject to the works that have been undertaken and what was originally agreed as part of the permission to undertake the works.

2. The policy

2.1. Our Commitment
2.1.1. City West have agreed that we should:
• Provide a policy and procedure, by which customers will be able to make approved improvements or alterations to their home;
• Publish clear guidance on each stage of the process and what service the customer can expect to receive from City west;
• Explain to customers what on the next steps in the event they are refused permission to undertake improvement works.
• Treat any application for non-qualifying improvements or alterations on their individual merits;
• Reply to all applications seeking consent within a reasonable timescale;
• Not unreasonably withhold consent for an improvement or alteration;
• Provide a clear written statement detailing the reason for any refusal of consent;
• Involve tenants in monitoring and reviewing the Tenant Improvement and Alterations policy on an ongoing basis.

2.2. What is a home improvement or alteration?
2.2.1. An ‘Improvement’ is defined as, “any alteration, or addition to, a dwelling house” and includes additions or alteration to landlords fixtures and fittings, alteration to the services to the dwelling, the erection of a wireless or television aerial and the carrying out of external decoration. Examples of improvements include; installing a shower, fitting double-glazing, erecting a shed, fence or garage or fitting a new kitchen.

2.3. City West’s approach
2.3.1. Secure tenants have the right to carry out improvements to their home by virtue of Section 97 of the Housing Act 1985. This is a right extended to assured tenants of self-contained accommodation by the Tenants Guarantee. City West will ensure a fair and consistent approach to any application for improvements or alterations. We will publish a clear list of common qualifying repairs and provide an easy to use application process.

2.4. Consent to carry out improvements
2.4.1. No tenant may carry out an improvement without the written consent of City West Housing Trust. City West cannot unreasonably withhold consent. In extenuating circumstances consent can be given retrospectively after the improvement has taken place (Section 98 (3) Housing Act 1985), although this will be advised against due to the risk of such consent not being granted. Consent to carry out an improvement must be referred to and granted either by the Assistant Director of Asst Management or the Regeneration Manager (Delivery).

2.5. Conditional consent
2.5.1. If conditional consent is granted, those conditions must be reasonable. Where the conditions imposed are unreasonable City West will be deemed to have withheld permission unreasonably. A failure by a secure or assured tenant to satisfy a reasonable condition imposed by City West in giving consent shall be treated as a breach of tenancy conditions (Housing Act, 1985 Section 99 (4)).

2.6. Refusal of consent
2.6.1. Where a customer applies in writing for permission to carry out an improvement, City West, if refusing consent, will provide the tenant with a written statement of why permission has not been granted. If City West neither gives nor refuses permission within a reasonable time, consent will be taken to have been withheld.

2.7. Right of appeal
2.7.1. If a customer feels that their application has been refused unreasonably, they should, in the first instance, make a complaint to City West Housing Trust detailing the reasons they consider the decision unreasonable. This case will be reviewed and the complaint processed in line with City West Housing Trusts’ published complaints policy and procedure.

2.7.2. A customer may apply to the County Court under section 110 of the Housing Act 1985 if they feel that permission has been unreasonably withheld or if permission has been granted and unreasonable conditions attached. In determining whether permission has been unreasonably withheld the court will have regard to the extent to which the improvement would be likely:
• To make the dwelling house, or any other premises less safe to occupiers;
• To cause City West to incur expenditure which it would be unlikely to incur if the improvement were not made, or;
• To reduce the price which the dwelling house would fetch if sold on the open market or the rent which City West would be able to charge on letting the dwelling.

2.8. Improvements and subsequent rents

2.8.1. Where a customer makes an improvement at their own expense City West cannot take the improvement into account when increasing the rent. Where City West has contributed to the cost of the improvement the rent may be increased in proportion to the amount contributed.

2.9. Compensation
2.9.1. In certain circumstances, City West may make a payment to the outgoing tenancy holder or their successors at the end of a tenancy in respect of improvements carried out with consent, however, there is no obligation to do so (Housing Act 1985, section 100).

3. Legislation and Regulation Standards

• Housing Act 1985
• Circular 33/94
• Housing Corporation (2005) ‘Regulatory Code’

4. Delivery and Monitoring

4.1. This policy will be delivered by the Communities and Neighbourhoods department and the Investment & Regeneration department.

4.2. To ensure the policy is being delivered fairly and appropriately, the delivery of this policy will be monitored on a 6 monthly basis where appropriate analysing applications and approval rates by area, customer profiling and property type.

4.3. This policy will be reviewed every 2 years, unless legislation / regulation changes or sector developments require an earlier review. This will ensure that the policy continues to represent best practice and the objectives of City West.

5. Equality And Diversity

5.1. An Equality Impact Assessment Screening Document has been completed and identified no negative impacts from this policy.

6. Related procedures

• Home Improvement Procedure
• Comments, complaints and compliments procedure
• Abandonment Procedure
• Equipment & Adaptations Procedure

7. Related policies

• Repairs and Maintenance Policy
• Tenancy Sustainability policy
• Recharge Policy
• Rent and Income Policy
• Compensation Policy
• Adaptations policy
• Equality & Diversity Policy
• Housing management policies