Your right to improve your home

Content owner : housing@knh.org.uk Last updated : 05/03/11

Your right to improve

You can make improvements to your home if you are a secure tenant and if you get our written permission first.

We may refuse your request if :

  • the work would reduce the value of the property; or
  • the work would make the property less safe for the occupiers, for example if it would disturb asbestos which could be a health hazard; or
  • the work would result in extra costs to KNH.

Please remember that :

  • you are responsible for any repairs to the improvements you make
  • if you move you must either leave any improvements or put your home back to its original condition.

What you need to do if you want to improve your home

If you want to improve your home you must follow these steps :

Step 1 - Getting our written permission

You must get written permission from KNH before you make any improvements to your home. You can get a Permission Request form from your neighbourhood housing team.

It is a condition of your tenancy agreement that you get written permission before work starts. Please remember that if you make improvements to your home without our written permission you will probably have to pay to put things right when your tenancy ends.

We will discuss your home improvements with you. We will also be able to tell you if the improvements you are planning are suitable or not. This will avoid any extra expense to put things right.

We will try to reply within 10 working days if you ask for permission to alter or improve your home, and it is a straightforward alteration. If we need to make more enquiries – for example if you want to convert an attic space – we will finish our investigations and try to answer you within six weeks.

Step 2 - Planning permission and building regulations

Step 3 - Getting the work done properly and safely

If you are making improvements to your home we strongly advise you to use a competent and qualified tradesperson.

It is always a good idea to use a contractor who has been recommended to you by someone who has had work done for them, to a good standard.

Health and safety - once work is underway, if you or your contractor come across any material that you think may be asbestos, stop work at once and contact us and we will investigate this further.


Claiming compensation for your home improvements

If you move, you may be able to claim compensation for improvements you have made to your home providing you have written permission. The improvements must be up to a certain standard, which is why it is important to use competent and qualified tradespeople.

It is important that you keep all the receipts or invoices for the work in case you need to claim compensation in the future.

Who gets compensation?

The ‘right to compensation’ applies to nearly all council tenants. If a tenancy ends because the tenant dies, or other special circumstances apply, the person responsible for the estate can claim compensation.

You will not get compensation if you are buying your home through the ‘right to buy’ or ‘rent to mortgage’ schemes, because improvements are not included in the purchase price.Compensation is not payable to evicted tenants.

If joint tenants separate, the person who leaves will not receive compensation.

What can you claim compensation for?

The ‘right to compensation’ applies to nearly all council tenants. If a tenancy ends because the tenant dies, or other special circumstances apply, the person responsible for the estate can claim compensation.

You will not get compensation if you are buying your home through the ‘right to buy’ or ‘rent to mortgage’ schemes, because improvements are not included in the purchase price.Compensation is not payable to evicted tenants.

If joint tenants separate, the person who leaves will not receive compensation.


You can claim compensation for :


  • the cost of materials (but not appliances such as cookers or fridges)
  • labour costs (but not your own labour).

What kind of improvements can you get compensation for?

If you have made improvements that are less than 10 years old to your kitchen or central heating you may be entitled to compensation. You may also be entitled to compensation if the improvements to your bathroom are less than 12 years old. Please ask your housing office for more details.

The right to compensation applies to the following improvements:

  • fitting a bath or shower, washbasin and toilet
  • fitting a kitchen sink and work surfaces for preparing food
  • fitting storage cupboards in a bathroom or kitchen
  • installing central heating, hot water boilers and other types of heating
  • fitting thermostatic radiator valves
  • fitting pipe, water tank and cylinder insulation
  • draught-proofing outside doors or windows
  • installing double-glazing or other window replacement or secondary glazing
  • rewiring or installing power and lighting or other electrical fittings (including smoke detectors)
  • improvements to home security (not burglar alarms).

How do you claim for compensation?

You should make a claim for compensation 28 days before you move out of your home. Claims will only be accepted up to 21 days after the tenancy ends.

You can get a claim form from your housing office. Please make sure that you fill in all the sections of the form and include your phone number.

When you have filled the claim form in, send it to the KNH Investment Team. To speed up your claim, include copies of all receipts or invoices that you have for the work. A surveyor will then arrange to visit your property.

How long will it take?

We will try to make you an offer within four weeks of your leaving the property. You should receive your cheque within four weeks of accepting the offer.It will take longer if the improvements you are claiming compensation for need repair work or if the property needs clearing out.

How is the compensation worked out?

The value of any improvement goes down as it gets older and as you get more use out of it. The amount of compensation you get will depend on how old the improvement is when you claim.

You may get less compensation if the surveyor thinks the cost of the improvement was too expensive or the quality is lower than it would have been if KNH had done it themselves.

Your compensation entitlement will be used to pay any money owed to the Council for housing debts, including any work we need to do on the improvements you have made.

Please make sure that your home is completely cleared or your compensation may be reduced by the cost of cleaning out the property.

You can get up to £3,000 for improvement, but you will not get payment if the compensation amount is below £50.


Improvements that do not qualify for compensation

Inside decoration (painting and wallpapering), fitted wardrobes, light fittings, laminated flooring and wood panelling are all acceptable improvements but do not qualify for compensation.


What if you are unhappy with the outcome?

If you are unhappy with the way your claim for compensation has been dealt with or the amount you have been offered, you can appeal within 28 days of receiving our letter by writing to the Head of Investment