When someone lives on council property, they are made aware of the fact that there are certain responsibilities of the landlord (or council authority) while there are some responsibilities of the tenants. While most of these are generic, it is best to have them outlined in the tenancy agreement. While the purpose of this blog post is to discuss how a council housing tenant can replace the front door of their council house, we will also explore how the type of tenancy impacts a tenant’s rights and responsibilities towards their council house, whether they can extend or decorate it and how can they make changes to it such as installing a new bathroom or kitchen.
How Can I Replace My Council House Front Door?
If you need a new front door for your council house, you must place a request to your local council office or housing association as it is their responsibility to maintain the housing structure if there is any damage to it. However, if you wish to change the front of your council house out of choice, you may need to seek a dialogue with the council authorities as to how the payment, as well as permission, will be managed.
Council authorities (this includes housing associations) are responsible for making sure that tenants live in a safe and secure property and they maintain responsibility for most repairs including the following:
- The building structure includes external doors, roof, walls and windows
- Lifts and communal entrances
- Toilets, baths, pipes and sinks
- Heating and hot water
- Gas appliances
- Electrical wiring and any appliances that they have provided
However, if repairs are required to damage caused to them by you or your guests, you will be required to bear the expense of these repairs.
There are certain home improvements that tenants can manage on their own but this depends on the type of their tenancy.
If you are a secure tenant, you can seek permission from your council authorities and manage minor changes or upgrades to your council house on your own.
In fact, as a secure tenant, you can carry out interior and exterior decor as well as home improvement tasks such as installing new bathrooms or a fireplace or even building an extension or greenhouse. Still, you must attain written permission from your social housing landlord or housing association prior to the start of any such work on the property.
However, you will need to make sure that any building or reconstruction that is carried out in your council house fulfils Building Regulations.
On the other hand, introductory tenants may only be allowed to conduct minor repairs inside their house, while fixed-term tenants may not be allowed to make any changes to the council house.
How Often Do Councils Replace Kitchens?
As a general rule, kitchens in council houses are meant to last a minimum of 30 years. In addition to the age of the property, the below criteria are essential for kitchen replacements in council houses:
- A new kitchen has not been fitted in the past 30 years (these include referrals from social services).
- No major repairs have been carried out in the recent five years.
- The tenant has not applied to purchase their council house under the Right To Buy scheme.
Unless there is a dire need for a kitchen replacement due to unforeseen circumstances, kitchen replacements are not undertaken before the end of a 30 year period. However, small scale alterations and instalments can be carried out by tenants with approval from the council.
Any installations that are required will be prioritised depending on the age of the property. Once a tenant’s request for kitchen replacement is approved, the council assigns a design consultant to visit the property and discuss the layout/requirements.
How Can I Get A New Bathroom From Council?
To get a new bathroom from the council, it is essential that the property that you are living in fulfils the following conditions:
- The current bathroom facility is at least 30 years old.
- No major repairs have been carried out on the bathroom in the recent five years.
- The tenant has not applied to purchase their council house.
Generally speaking, a basic bathroom upgrade includes the following modifications to the existing facility:
- new wash hand basin, toilet and bath, over bath electric shower and light fitting
- freshly papered and painted bathroom walls and ceiling painted with floor vinyl laid
- fitting of wallboards fitted around the bath and behind the wash hand basin area
Any installations that are required from the council will be prioritised depending on the age of the property. Once a tenant’s request for bathroom replacement is approved, a design consultant visits the property and discusses the layout/requirements.
What Are Building Regulations?
These are some basic standards for the design and structural changes that are to occur and are essential to be met during the construction, conversion or refurbishment of properties. Building Regulations have been set to assure that the health and safety of the residents will not be compromised in any way as a result of the said modifications to the property.
These include the following:
- Structural changes such as house extensions or conversions should not affect a load-bearing wall, beam or chimney breast or which will make access to property difficult.
- There should be no electrical safety concerns due to the addition of fuse boxes or plugs, or a change of electrics that causes new electrical wiring.
- Installation of heating appliances such as a boiler, radiator or fuel-burning appliance should be managed with extreme caution.
- There should be no concern for fire hazards due to construction work and the escape route (of the added/converted section to the premises) must comply with fire safety standards.
- Installation of a new bathroom or kitchen should not affect the overall plumbing of the house.
- New windows, doors or fixed air-conditioning systems should meet the safety and design standards set by Building Regulations.
What Is Included In Permitted Development?
The scope of Permitted Development runs across varied projects that may be related to the internal or external structure of a property. Home improvement projects under Permitted Development include the following:
- building of a small rear extension
- construction of a porch
- changes of use including loft, garage or basement conversions
- knocking down internal walls
- installation of solar panels
- installation of satellite dishes
- addtition of rooflights or dormer windows
Can I Extend My Council House?
Yes, you can extend your council house as long as you have taken permission from the council authority to proceed with any work on council property. Their permission will mainly depend on the type of council tenancy that an applicant is under. Secure tenants will find it easier to be granted permission for making major changes such as adding an extension to their council house as they are eligible to continue remaining as occupants for a lifetime. However, fixed tenants will not be able to attain permission until they qualify to become secure tenants.
Despite your tenancy status, you will still need to get your design for the extension approved by the council office and planning permission.
Changes to council property that need permission from council authorities include the following:
- Building a parking space, garage, hard standing or driveway
- Electrical work
- Flooring (this does not include)
- Gas work; such as central heating
- Installing a new kitchen or bathroom
- Installing a satellite dish or ariel
- Installing a shed, porch, fence, conservatory, greenhouse, patio, decking, aviary, pigeon loft, fishpond, pool, or similar structure in the garden
- Plumbing work
- Structural work
Can I Decorate My Council House?
Yes, not only can you decorate council houses, but in some cases, the council provides you with a voucher when you move into a council house to purchase items for home decor. You may be able to use this voucher for specific items only. However, with certain items paid for, you can allocate your own finances to other areas of home furnishing.
In some cases, if a council house resident is above 70 years of age and claiming benefits, they can apply for help with home decor especially if the following conditions are being met:
- The resident is above 70 years of age and claiming benefits
- They have no help to get home decor work carried out
- The room(s) have not been decorated in at least 10 years
- The resident has been paying their rent on time
- There are no legal notices against the property
- They have not applied to purchase the property
In some cases, certain home improvement tasks need to be carried out prior to home decor. These may include rewiring, extensive re-plastering or fitting central heating systems. You should make sure that there is a thorough assessment of the kind of home improvements that are required so that such work is complete before you start decorating your council house. In most cases, your council or social housing landlord will bear the expense of major home improvements.
What Are Council House Fencing Rules?
Council authorities will provide fencing on your property in case of the following situations:
- the property is adjacent to a public path or public alleyway
- the property is intended is for communal areas
- the property opens onto a public highway
However, maintenance of the fence is the tenant’s responsibility. If you want a higher fence or a more secure one for your pets than the one that is provided by the council, you will need to erect one on your one and bear its cost. You will need the council’s permission before you make any alterations to council property even if you have purchased the council house you live in.
Similarly, if you need a fence to divide your side of the garden from your neighbour’s, remove, change or alter an existing fence, you will have to bear the expense on your own, while the council will only grant permission to do so.
The discussion in this article brings us to the conclusion that a council housing tenant should inform their local council office if they need to have their front door replaced or repaired as structural changes or repairs on council property are the responsibility of council authorities. However, tenants would need to make sure that they have not caused any damage to council property due to which alterations or repairs are needed; as in this case, tenants will have to bear the expense.
FAQs: How Can I Replace My Council House Front Door?
Do the council pay you to downsize?
Council authorities provide a financial incentive to their tenants to downsize. If they do so, tenants will maintain the same type of tenancy as their current one.
Can I add my son to my council tenancy in the UK?
Yes, you can add your son, daughter or any other family to your council tenancy in the UK; as long as you have permission from the council office or landlord. In such a case, a joint tenancy agreement will need to be drawn up.
What makes a property uninhabitable in the UK?
If there are major issues such as the supply of hot or cold water, drainage issues with lavatories, and tenants are unable to wash or cook in a property, it is considered to be uninhabitable in the UK.
Which is a better option between council housing and the housing association?
Housing associations offer their properties through the council office as well. While there are no major differences, council properties are usually cheaper and more spacious in comparison.
Can council houses be passed down?
Yes, council houses can be passed down in terms of their tenancy. However, this can only be done once.