You must get our written permission before you start any work to alter, add to or improve your home. This is a condition of your tenancy.
Alternatively, you can give written details of what you propose to your housing office.
You may need to give further details (for example, drawings or plans) once our property inspector has looked at your proposals. You must not start any work until you have a letter from us giving you permission.
You must also keep to any conditions we set for the work and it must be done to a satisfactory and safe standard.
The following list provides examples of the types of home improvements that cannot be made without our permission:
- Knocking down or building any walls, inside or outside of your home
- Adding to or changing your heating or hot water system
- Fitting a new kitchen, bathroom or shower cubicle
- Installing laminate, wood block or similar flooring
- Installing a satellite dish
- Building a garage, carport, outdoor aviary, conservatory or similar structure
- Installing a driveway, hard-standing or paved parking area
These are not the only works you have to get our permission for. If you are planning any work, check with your local housing office to see if you need permission first.
You may need to get planning permission before you start, or buildings regulations approval. You should check this with the planning staff in our Planning and Sustainability Division based in the Civic Centre.
You should also make sure you have adequate public liability insurance for the work you are to do.
If you are doing the improvements in order to run a business, work or trade from home you must have our written permission, and any other appropriate approvals, to run that business first.
Your tenancy agreement
You need to be aware of the conditions of your tenancy that concern doing work on your home. You should particularly look at:
- Section 3 - ‘Use of the Property’ - especially 3.2(a), 3.6(d), 3.7 and 3.10(h)
- Section 5 - ‘Repairs and Improvements’ - especially 5.8, 5.10 and 5.12
You are responsible for any repairs to the work you have done
You are responsible for the repair, maintenance and servicing of any alterations, improvements or additions you have done, unless we have agreed in writing to do this.
This must be done safely and properly. Any work on a gas supply or appliance must be done by a Gas Safe registered tradesperson.
What can happen if you do not do things properly
This section will apply if you:
- Do any alterations, additions or improvements without our written permission
- Have our permission for the work but do not keep to any conditions we have set
- Leave any part of your home in an unsatisfactory or unsafe condition
- Cause any damage to any neighbouring property
Depending on what you have done you will have to either put things back as they were before, or bring the work up to a safe and satisfactory standard.
If we have to do this we will charge you the cost of doing so. If we have to do repairs to any neighbouring properties as a result of your work we will also charge you for that.
If your work leaves your home in a dangerous structural condition, with a burst pipe flooding another property or with a gas leak we can, in this emergency situation, force entry to sort the problem out.
If we have to do this we will charge you for the cost of this and for any resultant damage.
Compensation for improvements
If you are a secure council tenant and your tenancy is ending (for example, you are moving to a new home) you may be able to get compensation for certain improvements you have made to your home.
This does not apply if you are an introductory tenant or if you are buying your council home.
Some examples of the sort of improvements you may be able to get compensation for are:
- Central heating and/or hot water boiler
- Kitchen (not appliances such as cooker or fridge)
- Loft and cavity wall insulation
- Electrical rewiring
Interior decoration does not qualify for compensation.
The amount of compensation we can pay is affected by a number of conditions. The main ones are:
- You must make your claim to us in writing within 14 days of your tenancy ending
- You must have had our written permission for the improvement concerned
- The improvement must be in good condition, properly installed and safe to use
- The work must have been done by a registered tradesperson where this is required by law, for example work with gas must be done by a Gas Safe registered tradesperson
- The cost of the materials and labour (not your own labour) is taken into account, up to certain limits
- The age of the improvement, and the wear and tear on it, affects the amount of compensation
- We will deduct the cost of any grant you had to carry out the improvement
For more information contact your housing office and ask for the government leaflet - ‘Your Right to Compensation for Improvements’.