While council authorities will replace your kitchen and bathroom (or any other structural part of the property) while you are a tenant, there are certain conditions to be met to be eligible for such a replacement. Through this blog post, we aim to learn about the choices council housing tenants may have once their council house kitchen is due for an upgrade. We will also explore how frequently council authorities and housing associations replace kitchens for their tenants, the impact of such changes to a property on your council tax bill as well as the consequences of such structural changes on your living conditions and expneses.

What Are My Choices For A Council Kitchen?

While the choices one gets for a kitchen replacement vary from council to council, as part of the Tenants’ Choice Programme, the York Council offers  its tenants the following choices:

  • Six modern kitchen door fronts and cabinet shades that you can choose from. These include Cool White, Haze, Modern Oak, Country Oak, Warm Grey and Onyx.
  • Six different worktop colours which include Caldera. White Concrete, Oak Block, Terrazzo Grey, Natural Terrazo and Limed Wenge.
  • Two modern styles of a unit door handle.
  • Choice of kitchen tiles between mosaic designs as well as plain shades.
  • Six different vinyl flooring types.
  • Stainless steel sink with a choice of a left or right-handed drainer as well as a lever tap option.

If a council housing tenant is due for an upgrade to their kitchen, the council will replace the worktops, kitchen units and vinyl floor coverings. The council will inform tenants of this upgrade atleast 3 months in advance before the 12 month period starts during which the upgrade is to take place.

In the case of certain home improvements, you may have to seek permission from the council authorities prior to work commencing on the property. The expense of most of the following may be reimbursed by the council:

  • Kitchen sink and work surfaces 
  • Toilet, bath, shower, wash-basin
  • Storage cupboards 
  • Heating equipment 
  • Radiator valves
  • Insulation
  • Draught-proofing 
  • Double glazing or other window replacement
  • Rewiring, and fixing electrical fittings (including smoke detectors)

According to House Renovation Cost in 2021 a new kitchen can cost between £10,000 to £25,000. Council authorities may be able to provide these at a lower cost due to simpler designs and low-cost contractors; however, tenants will mostly qualify for a kitchen replacement of the property that is at least 30 years old. Certain home improvements increase the property value of one’s home which may increase their council tax bill in the future.

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 Often Do Housing Associations Replace Kitchens?

Housing Associations replace kitchens every 15 years. For minor changes or upgrades, tenants can seek their permission and arrange the same on their own.

In addition to the age of the property, the below criteria are essential for kitchen replacements in social houses:

  • A new kitchen has not been fitted in the past 15 years.
  • No major repairs have been carried out in the recent five years.
  • The tenant has not applied to purchase their council house.

There are certain home improvements that tenants can manage on their own but this depends on the type of their tenancy. Assured tenants have the authority to install a new kitchen or an extension for home improvements.

Meanwhile, starter tenants may only be allowed to conduct minor repairs inside their house, while fixed-term tenants may not be allowed to make any changes. 

Assured tenants on the other hand 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.

Will A Kitchen Replacement Affect My Council Tax Bill?

If a kitchen replacement increases the property value of the house that you are living in may be increased; which may result in an increase in your council tax bill. There are certain circumstances due to which properties may be revalued and their bands reassigned by the local council. Below is a list of factors that may cause a change in band:

  • a part of your property is demolished and is not rebuilt
  • the property is altered to subdivide it into self-contained units, (this could be a single unit with an annexe – each unit will be considered under a separate band) 
  • a single property is reconstructed into self-contained flats
  • flats are converted to a single property
  • residents start or stop working from home
  • changes were made to property the property by the previous owner
  • significant changes such as a new road are being made to the local area
  • the council tax band was changed for a property with similar features in the same area

While some of the changes listed above are directly related to renovations and repairs being made to premises and they also might be in control of the resident, some might be involuntary and external changes that do have an impact on council tax bills. 

Do You Have To Pay Council Tax When Renovating A Property?

If the property is uninhabitable due to the renovations that are being made to it and the nature of work includes structural changes or major home repairs, residents will be exempt from paying council tax for the tenure of the process. 

However, if you are unable to qualify for an exemption from council tax, certain home repairs may count you as eligible for a council tax reduction; while renovations that do not affect everyday living and the property remains occupied while work proceeds will not qualify for either an exemption or a discount.

You may be able to avail of a discount on your council tax bill if any of the following repair works are being done at your home:

  • repair of roof structures or foundations 
  • rebuilding of external walls or chimney stacks, 
  • replacement of floors 
  • removal of internal walls (not partitions)

Can I Apply For A Council Tax Discount For Home Renovations?

To be able to qualify for a council tax discount while your home is being renovated, you must inform your local council office prior to the commencement of the repair work at your premises (or as soon as possible once the work starts. If the claimant informs their local council after the renovations are complete, they will be required to provide substantial evidence to be considered for a council tax discount.

The next steps will be as follows:

Step 1: The council contacts the residents and sends a representative to survey the premises.

Step 2: If the property qualifies for a discount, the reduced amount of council tax will remain applicable for an entire year (this may be up to a 100 per cent discount).

Step 3: Once the property becomes inhabited, residents liable for council tax payments must inform their local council within 21 days.

Step 4 (a): If the property remains unfurnished and uninhabited for less than 2 years, a full council tax bill becomes applicable.

Step 4 (b): If the property remains unfurnished and uninhabited for more than 2 years, residents will be liable to pay a premium called “empty house premium”. This is an additional charge over and above the full amount of their council tax bill.

Do I Need Building Regulations For Kitchen Replacement?

Yes, you will need Building Regulations for a kitchen replacement to make sure that your property is not only safe and hazard-free but also improves the overall living standard for you and your surroundings. 

Key areas that you will be required to comply with include the following: 

  • fire safety
  • ventilation
  • thermal performance
  • acoustics

What Are Building Regulations?

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.

Conclusion:

The above discussion confirms that while the choices tenants have for kitchen replacement may vary with each council district; however, tenants will have the opportunity to choose their preferred shades for the kitchen front door, cabinets, and flooring as well as options for door handles and sink taps. However, tenants must keep in mind that kitchens are replaced after a gap of 30 years on council property; Therefore, they may need to keep track of the eligibility of the council property they live in.

FAQs: What Are My Choices For A Council Kitchen?

Can the council inspect my house?

Yes, council authorities have a duty to visit houses; both privately rented ones and especially council housing premises. Such visits are scheduled in advance and residents are informed ahead of the visit to expect a visit by the council authorities at a specified date and time.

Will the council pay me to downsize?

Sometimes council authorities give financial incentives to their tenants to downsize if the council house that they are living in is not in proportion to the number of members in the household.

What is a secure council tenant?

A secure tenant is someone who can continue living in their council property for the rest of their lives. Secure tenants have the authority to rent out certain rooms in their council house; however, they cannot sublet the entire property.

What is the difference between social housing and council housing?

Although both provide low-cost housing options, the main difference between social housing and council housing is that in the case of being a social tenant, one rents a house from housing associations while council tenants rent homes from the local council. Council homes are generally more affordable than those provided by housing associations.

What are housing associations’ responsibilities?

Some of the responsibilities of housing associations include home repairs such as gas and electrical wiring, provision of certain appliances, and maintenance and provision of lifts and communal areas.

References:

Tenants Choice Brochure 2021

Before council home upgrades

Investment works | North Tyneside Council

Kitchen and bathroom replacement

Council housing: Repairs and maintenance – GOV.UK

Council House – Applying for a new Kitchen and Bathroom – Home Swap.

Repairs and maintenance in your council house

Repairs and maintenance in council and housing association homes – Shelter England

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?