Orbit South

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Improvement & Alterations

Compensation will not normally be payable where the tenancy is ended through a possession action taken through the County Court

  • Housing Act 1985 (secure tenants) 
  • The revised Tenants Guarantee for assured tenants (effective 1 January 1995) 
  • Housing Corporation Circular 33/94
There are certain conditions that should apply when dealing with the right to improve and this section details them. However you must note:
  • We cannot increase the rent as a result of the improvement while you are the tenant 
  • The rent can be increased for any subsequent tenant, this will include succession tenancies 
  • After your tenancy has been terminated any fixtures and fittings left behind will become our property

Examples of improvements and alterations include:

  • Complete kitchen replacement including sink and work surfaces for preparing food  
  • Erecting a satellite dish. (This applies to houses and bungalows only, all flats/maisonettes and some bungalows will share a communal aerial/satellite dish.)
  • Changing the provision of services to your home, e.g. installing a gas supply 
  • Erecting a garden shed or greenhouse
  • Bathroom and sanitary improvements, bath, shower, wash hand basin toilet 
  • Central heating, hot water boilers and other types of heating; thermostatic radiator valves, pipes, water tank or cylinder insulation 
  • Draught-proofing of external doors or windows 
  • Loft and cavity wall installation 
  • Double-glazing, window replacement or secondary glazing  
  • Rewiring, additional power and lighting or other electrical fittings. New regulations require all electrical work to be carried out by a qualified electrician. 
  • Any work which improves the security of the property, (not burglar alarms) 

Are there any improvements or alterations that I am not allowed to make?

You are not allowed to:

go ahead tickAlter the fabric or structure of the building(s). In some cases this may include garages

go ahead tickRemove or erect walls or outbuildings

go ahead tickChange the layout of the building, for example changing a garage into a living space or removing dividing walls to make one room. However, we may consider permission for a temporary partition of a large bedroom i.e. making one bedroom into two but each room would need to have adequate heating, ventilation and lighting.


We will normally give permission provided that:

go ahead tick It will not make the property unsafe

go ahead tickThe works are not too costly and unduly expensive to maintain

go ahead tickIt will not make the property difficult to let or be unsuitable for future occupants

go ahead tickIt will not reduce the value of the property

go ahead tickIt is in keeping with the property layout

go ahead tickIt is in keeping with the aesthetics of the estate/scheme

go ahead tickThere are no building or planning restrictions

go ahead tickThere are no estate/development restrictions


Does the work need to be carried out to a specified standard, or by a professional builder/contractor?


go ahead tickPlans and material types maybe required

go ahead tickBuilding and planning permission certificates will be required in certain circumstances

go ahead tickContractors must be from an approved list

go ahead tickWe will require insurance certificates for public liability from all contractors 

go ahead tickWe will inspect the work once it has been completed


If you leave the property, you will be expected to reinstate the property to its original condition if the improvement is to be removed.

Can you claim compensation for improvements you make?

You have a right to claim compensation for certain improvements which you make to your home. However, certain conditions apply:

  • In order to qualify for compensation, you must follow the correct application procedures before starting works. For further details please contact your local housing office.
  • You must have our written consent
  • The amount of compensation is calculated and paid out when you leave the  property
  • The compensation paid will not be the same amount you spent to have the work done as it will take into account wear and tear and depreciation. 
  • If you owe us any money (for example rent arrears) this will be deducted from any compensation payable
  • Where the tenancy is terminated following a breach of a tenant’s obligations compensation will not normally be paid

Will I qualify for compensation?

To qualify for compensation for alterations and improvements, you must have:

go ahead tickSubmitted an application for consideration

go ahead tickObtained 3 estimates from contractors and submit these to us for consideration

go ahead tickTold us which estimate you have chosen, and why

go ahead tickReceived written consent from us agreeing the estimate and giving permission for the work to start


Interior decoration does not quality for compensation

Please note that compensation:

  • Is payable for the cost of materials and labour (but not goods such as cookers or refrigerators or your own labour) 
  • Is only payable when you give up your tenancy and leave the property in an acceptable state of repair 
  • Can only be considered for improvements started on or after April 1995 
  • Is not payable if you have received a minor works grant or a grant through the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme 
  • Is not payable if you have received the service free through an agency or charity who have been supported by a grant


  • We will require you to provide us with a copy of the invoice showing  how much your improvement work has cost and a receipt showing you have paid  ~
  • The maximum payable is £3,000 and the minimum £50. Compensation will only be paid at the end of the tenancy and may be set against any sums that you may owe us
  •  The formula for calculating compensation will follow the guidance laid down in Statutory Instrument 613/94 and the value depreciated in line with the estimated life of the improvement 
  • Compensation will not normally be payable where the tenancy is ended through a possession action taken through the County Court

Will we make improvements to your home?

We carry out surveys of the condition of all of the property we own. This helps us plan ahead for replacement and renewal of:

  • Windows and heating systems,  
  • Upgrading kitchens and bathrooms 
  • Rewiring 
  • Roofing


Where we are planning to undertake major works to your home/scheme we will ensure that you are fully consulted and provided with regular progress reports once works start.

There maybe a time when we need to carry out major works to your home

This rarely happens; it would only be in very exceptional circumstances. If we feel these works cannot be carried out while you remain living in your home we will:

  • Aim to find you alternative accommodation on a like for like basis but this  may not always be possible. In these circumstances we will offer you accommodation which is suitable to your needs and family size

Consider finding you alternative permanent accommodation. If this is a consideration the housing team will discuss your options with you and make an informed joint decision

  • Pay for removals, disconnection and reconnection charges and in some case a disturbance payment
  • If you are unable to return to your home once works are completed, you may be entitled to a Home Loss Payment. Your local housing team will provide full details should this situation apply

What if I move on a temporary basis then wish to stay there permanently?

  • We consider all options for housing when we have identified major works to be carried out 
  • Each case will be considered based on the individual circumstance but we would expect you to return to your home once all works have been completed 
  • Your local housing office will be able to provide further details.

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