Private improvements and repairs

 

Private landlords, property owners and private tenants may be eligible for a home improvements grant.

Find below more information about what help is available and the relevant criteria.

Empty Properties

Empty buildings often become a target for crime, vandalism, rodents, fly tipping and squatters, as well as de-valuing the neighbouring properties.

Informal action includes, talking to the owners and informing them of empty property grants and giving advice and information on what can be done. If formal action is needed, then there is a wide range of enforcement action available, such as Compulsory Purchase Orders.  

Empty Property Grants

Empty Property Grants are available to help with the cost of bringing empty properties back to use. Awarding criteria include:

  • the property must have been empty for more than one year
  • the owner/s must agree to let the property for 5 years after the work is complete 
  • it is no longer a requirement to let the properties to the council

What is the grant for?

  • most works to make the property suitable for occupation 
  • self-containment works
  • works required to make bed-sits
  • works providing additional amenities and fire precautions

How much is available?

The amount of grant available is 50% of the cost of the work up to £10,000 per dwelling.

Conditions

An application form must be completed and returned, signed by the owner/s, showing proof of ownership, two itemised building estimates, planning approval if required and building regulations must be followed. From the date of approval, a year is given to finish the works after which, the works are checked along with gas and electrical certificates. If the works are up to a decent standard, then the money is then refunded to the owner. It is important to note that work to the property cannot begin until the grant has been approved. 

How to apply?

Empty Property owners can contact the Private Sector Housing Team using the contact details on this page. 

I own an Empty Property

There are four main options available to owners of empty properties:

1. Sell your property

Before deciding to sell it is important to look realistically at what the house could go for in the current climate. Local house prices will only provide a rough guide.

  • Estate Agents - Estate Agents usually charge a fee, however they are able to market properties to many potential buyers
  • Auction Sale - Auction Houses offer a more limited service and the properties are normally placed in catalogues. Auctions are a very good way of releasing any capital that you have tied up within the property as they are usually sold on the day, with a non-refundable deposit

2. Renovate your property

If you have no experience in renovating property, then it is advisable to contact a qualified chartered surveyor who could advise you on the works that need to be carried out and the likely cost. You may also be eligible for an Empty Property Grant.

  • Building Control - Most works require building approval, so it is important to contact them prior to starting works, as it can be expensive and time consuming if works need to be re-done. See the Building Control page for more information.
  • Planning Permission - It is important to contact our Planning Team to check whether consent is needed to carry out works to your property. Enforcement action can be taken if permission has not been granted, and this often requires works to be demolished. See the Planning section for more information.

3. Rent your property

If you decide to rent your empty property, you need to decide if you want to become the landlord or rent it through a managing agent. If you choose to be the landlord you would be responsible for carrying out and arranging all maintenance and carrying out duties such as arranging gas safety checks.

If you want to let to a managing agent, then it is advisable to check the Association of Residential Managing Agents website.

4. Do nothing

Where an owner is not cooperating with the council and has either no intention of bringing the empty property back to use and/or it is causing a nuisance to the neighbours, the council has the following options:

  • Empty Dwelling Management Orders

Hackney Council can take over the management of an empty property on a temporary basis because an owner is unwilling or unable to manage it themselves. The council act as the manager, taking all costs from the rent and any remaining money is passed onto the owner.

  • Compulsory Purchase Orders

A CPO can be made when the owner of an empty property has no plans for bringing the property back into use, and the council have tried every other option of getting the property back to use, but have been unsuccessful. The Council must then take legal action which will result in the council taking ownership of the property. The property must then be sold onto a Registered Social Landlord, and the owner will be given the best market price.

  • Enforced Sales Procedures

If there is money owed to the council, (through a statutory notice issued) this can be registered as a charge on the property, and then the property can be sold through auction.

Relevant legislation

Town and Country Planning Act Section 215 - requires the powers of unsightly empty properties to tidy them up when they affect the amenity of an area.

Building Act 1984 - forces property owners to demolish or repair seriously dilapidated buildings

Environmental Protection Act 1990 - requires owners to carry out repairs to properties which are prejudicial to health or causing a nuisance to neighbours

Prevention of Damage of Pests Act 1949 - requires owners to destroy rats or mice and keep their land free from them

Housing Act 2004 - provides powers to have property repaired or managed by the council.

An empty property is causing me problems - what can I do?

Report the empty homes, providing details of the nuisance and address of the property and any other details you have, it will then be investigated. It maybe that the owner has to be traced and then works carried out, or if the owner cannot be found, it is possible for Hackney Council to do the works and then place a charge on the property.

Home Repair Assistance Grant

Warmth and Security Grant (WSG)

Landlords might be eligible for Council grants to improve energy efficiency and security in privately rented homes, although they are not obliged to provide insulation, home security measures or central heating. However, because of the Council's decent homes, energy efficiency and affordable warmth policies a grant of up to £6,000 is available to them.  

What is the grant for

  • loft insulation
  • pipe and tank lagging 
  • draught-proofing 
  • boiler replacement
  • fitting thermostatic radiator valves
  • fitting window and door locks and bolts
  • door chains and viewers and security lighting

Conditions

Only one grant is available per property and landlords will be responsible for repairing and maintaining the improvements they make. This may include arranging for annual gas safety checks, which is a legal requirement.

To find out more about grants generally or to comment on the grants Hackney offers, please contact Private Sector Housing, using the contact details on this page. 

External Works Grant (EWG)

Up to £5,000 is available in External Works Grant to owner occupiers only for works to the exterior of a house or flat which will make it weathertight. Works may include roof repairs or renewal, work to guttering, rainwater pipes or brickwork. The work funded by this grant may be all that is required or may just be emergency work aimed at preventing further deterioration until comprehensive improvements can be carried out.

Grants for Private Landlords

The Council offers grants to private landlords to help with the cost of providing amenities such as toilet, bathroom and kitchen facilities and improving fire safety and energy efficiency in the properties they let in Hackney. The grants are administered by Private Sector Housing and are as follows:

  • Landlord's Grant (LLG)
  • Warmth and Security Grant (WSG) 

Landlord's grant (LLG)

One of the Council's priorities is to ensure that privately rented homes are fit to live in and, if those homes are in multiple occupation, that they comply with the minimum standards of amenity and fire safety. Often this will include installing additional kitchens, toilets or washing facilities and upgrading or installing automatic fire detection systems. The grant may cover up to 50% of the cost of this work.

Conditions

  • the premises must be available for letting for a minimum of 5 years after the work is completed;
  • if a Notice has been served requiring improvement works to be done, the work must be completed within the time limit specified in the Notice. Grant applications can be made up to 6 months after completion of these works
  • other conditions relate to how the application is made, how the work is done and how the money may be claimed

Warmth and Security Grant (WSG)

Landlords might be eligible for Council grants to improve energy efficiency and security in privately rented homes, although they are not obliged to provide insulation, home security measures or central heating. However, because of the Council's decent homes, energy efficiency and affordable warmth policies a grant of up to £6,000 is available to them.  

What is the grant for

  • loft insulation
  • pipe and tank lagging 
  • draught-proofing 
  • boiler replacement
  • fitting thermostatic radiator valves
  • fitting window and door locks and bolts
  • door chains and viewers and security lighting

Conditions

Only one grant is available per property and landlords will be responsible for repairing and maintaining the improvements they make. This may include arranging for annual gas safety checks, which is a legal requirement.

To find out more about grants generally or to comment on the grants Hackney offers, please contact Private Sector Housing, using the contact details on this page.

To find out more about grants generally or to comment on the grants Hackney offers, please contact Private Sector Housing.

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