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Tenant Alteration & Improvement Policy

 Introduction

The day to day management of the Trust’s properties is carried out by its Managing Agent who will work to and comply with the provisions contained in this policy.

This policy sets out Selby & District Housing Trust’s approach for responding to tenants’ requests to carry out alterations and improvements to their home. Any authorised alterations and improvements will be arranged by the tenant and carried out at their expense. It also sets out how the Trust will manage situations where it is discovered that unauthorised alterations or improvements have been carried out.

The Trust acknowledges that tenants may wish to make alterations and improvements to their home and the Trust will approach every request with the intention of giving permission where reasonably practical.

The Trust lets its properties using a five year fixed term tenancy. The length of tenancy left at the time a request for an alteration or improvement is made will be a consideration for any permission given.

N.B. The Trust has a separate policy on the installation of satellite dishes.

Tenancy Agreement

It is a condition of the Selby & District Housing Trust Tenancy Agreement that tenants must not make changes to the property without first obtaining written consent from the Trust.

Section E3 of the Tenancy Agreement states that tenants have the right to make improvements and changes to their home and garden, but these need to be with the Trust’s permission. Improvements and changes include, for example, the following:-

  • Building a patio, hardstanding or driveway
  • Putting up an outbuilding or fences
  • Fitting a tv aerial
  • Fitting a new kitchen or bathroom
  • Changing the layout of the property by adding or removing walls, windows and so on

If permission is granted the following generic conditions apply:-

  • The improvements or changes must meet the local authority’s planning or building regulations.
  • The work must be carried out by a suitably qualified building contractor.
  • The work must be finished within a given timescale from the date the work started.
  • The Tenant must return their home to its original condition (at the Tenants expense) when they leave, provided the Trust has said this in giving permission.
  • If the work is not of the standard expected, is not safe, or breaks any Health & Safety regulations, the Tenant must pay the Trust reasonable costs to carry out any rectification works required.

If the tenant does not keep to the conditions attached to any permission given, the Trust will treat this as the tenant not meeting their responsibilities under the Tenancy Agreement and under Ground 12 of Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988*.

Minor Changes

Tenants do not normally need to ask permission for making minor changes such as carrying out internal decorations to the general fabric of the building, fitting carpets or putting up shelves or pictures. However, for new properties during their defects liability period (DLP) the Trust will not give approval for changes that may affect the validity of the DLP. For example, during this period the Trust will not usually allow changes such as redecorations or the fitting of shelves. The Trust will advise any tenants moving into a Trust property if they are within the defects liability period, and, if so, when it will expire. If the tenant is in any doubt as to what can be carried out without permission then they should ask the Trust.

Alterations & Improvements

An alteration is where a tenant alters, removes or replaces any of the existing fabric of the property or its fixtures and fittings.

An improvement is where the tenant replaces a Trust fixture or fitting for one which is of a higher standard or quality than that of the original to be replaced, or installs an item where there is none at present.

* Possession action under Ground 12 can be taken when ‘any obligation of the tenancy (other than on related to the payment of rent) has been broken or not performed’.

Conditions

Before carrying out any alterations or improvements tenants must apply to the Trust in writing, providing full details of what is proposed. Tenants must obtain consent for their proposals in writing before any work starts. The Trust’s response will include any conditions or requirements that must be complied with. Failure to seek the Trust’s consent or failure to carry out work to the conditions outlined will be dealt with as a breach of the terms and condition of tenancy. If the Trust is unable to give permission we will write to let the tenant know the reasons for this.

Where a tenant applies the Trust will normally grant permission subject to the following conditions:

Where either planning consent and/or building regulations approvals are required, the tenant will be responsible for obtaining these and for providing copies to the Trust before the Trust can make a decision on the application.

All work should be carried out in accordance with all current (at the time of the work being completed) statutory regulations and codes of practice and the tenant must provide to the Trust any installation certification needed for the work (such as an electrical NICEIC certificate or Gas Safe certificate).

The work must be carried out by a competent person in a professional manner. If the work involves electrics or gas then a registered qualified engineer must complete and certify the work (as above).

Any damage caused to the property or any neighbouring property during or as a result of the work will be made good at the tenants’ expense.

The tenant is responsible for the maintenance, repair and renewal of any alterations made, unless otherwise specified in writing by the Trust.

The tenant may be required to reinstate the property to its original condition when they terminate their tenancy unless the Trust agrees in writing that the alteration or improvement should remain. Should the tenant fail to reinstate the property when required to do so, the Trust will arrange for the work to be carried out during the void period with the tenant being recharged for the costs the Trust incurs.

Refusing permission

The Trust will refuse permission for an alteration or improvement where:

  • The works are considered to be detrimental to the structure or long term maintenance of the property and/or
  • The proposal will breach planning or building regulations
  • The works will negatively affect the lettability and/or value of the property
  • The works are not suitable for the property type
  • Action is being taken for rent arrears or, indeed for any breach of the Tenancy Agreement
  • The property is in its defects liability period, unless the works are of a minor nature which make the property more suitable or are required for the comfort of the new tenant (e.g. fitting curtain rails) or will not impact on the fabric of the property (e.g. installing a shed). N.B. We do not allow redecoration works or the fitting of shelves during the defects liability period.
  • Specifically the Trust will not give permission for tenants to carry out external decorations

Tenants who fail to comply with our conditions and/or standards

Tenants who do not apply for permission before carrying out an alteration or improvement, will have to do so retrospectively once its known that the work has been carried out. However, if it is determined that the tenant would not have been granted permission, the tenant will be required to return the property to its original condition within a specified timescale and meeting the re-instating costs.

A tenant who has been refused permission and has carried out work will be required to reinstate the property to its original condition. Should the tenant fail to reinstate, the Trust will arrange for the work to be carried out with the tenant being recharged for the costs the Trust incurs.

A tenant who has been given permission but whose work does not meet the standard or conditions outlined, will be required to carry out work within a specified timescale to meet the necessary standard. Should the tenant fail to carry out this work, the Trust will arrange for the work to be carried out with the tenant being recharged for the costs the Trust incurs.

Compensation

Trust tenants do not have a right to compensation at the end of their tenancy for improvements they have carried out to their homes.

Review

This policy will be monitored and updated where necessary to take account of changes in legislation and best practice. A review of the policy will be scheduled for 2 years from its initial introduction and thereafter as determined by the Board in accordance with best practice.

Complaint

Any tenant that has concerns related to this Tenant Alteration and Improvement Policy can make a complaint as per the Trust’s Complaint Policy. However, it should be noted that the Trust’s complaint procedure does not require the Trust to give an explanation of a decision made in line with the Trust’s policy.