Home improvements



Under the terms of your Occupancy Agreement or lease, if you're living in a rental property then you'll need our permission to make improvements or alterations to your home.
Image: A family decorating their home together

Apart from decorating, all improvements need our permission. So before you do anything, we ask that you contact us

If you're a leaseholder or shared owner, you are also required to inform us of any improvements or amendments to your home. Find out more about making adjustments to your home if you are a leaseholder or shared owner.

 

Making your own improvements

As one of our tenants, we want to make sure any improvements you make to your home are good quality.Image: Man installing a kitchen

Just like any repair or improvement, the quality of the workmanship and materials are important.

If you’re in arrears we will not give you permission for a home improvement.

We separate home improvements into two groups; minor and major. A list of minor and major improvements can be found below.
 

Minor home improvements:

Laying laminate or hard wood flooring

We don’t generally encourage tenants to install floor coverings that are solid, fixed or difficult to remove, such as laminate or hardwood flooring.

We won’t give permission for this type of flooring if you live in a flat above the ground floor, or on stairs.  It can significantly increase noise levels for neighbours (particularly to neighbours below).

It can also make it difficult for us to carry out repairs, maintenance, investigations, and planned improvements.  This would increase the risk of the flooring being damaged.

If we grant permission for you to install laminate or hardwood flooring, you must:

  • Minimise impact on any neighbours by installing adequate insulation
  • Agree you’re responsible for the cost of replacing the flooring if it’s unavoidably damaged during essential maintenance or routine upgrading (such as a kitchen or bathroom upgrade)
  • Agree you’re responsible for the cost of replacing the flooring if it’s damaged during a leak or accidental damage
  • Remove the flooring if it proves to be a noise nuisance to neighbours.
To apply for permission, you must provide us with details of:
  • Where in the home you plan to lay the flooring
  • What type and how thick the underlay will be
  • What type of flooring you want to use.

Cat & dog flaps

If we grant permission for you to install a cat or dog flap, it must be installed to a good standard and compliant with fire and smoke standards.

At the end of your tenancy we may ask you to return the property to its original condition, by removing the cat or dog flap and either making good or replacing the door.

Aerials, cables and satellite dishes

If you want to install an aerial, cable or satellite dish in an external area of your home, we ask that you contact us first.

We will usually grant permission for you to install an aerial, cable or satellite dish.  However, there are some cases we may refuse approval, for example:
  • It would make your home less safe
  • It would result in additional costs to us
  • It may interfere with any major repair work to your home
  • It doesn’t comply with special restrictions (such as if it’s a listed building or in a designated area)
  • Planning permission has been refused (if it was required).
You must not start the work to install a cable, aerial or satellite dish until you’ve received written permission from us to do so.
 

Unapproved Installations

We may ask you to remove, put back or make good any aerial or satellite installation we have not approved and/or which does not meet our standards.  We can also put right the work ourselves and you will be recharged for the cost of this work.

Generally, most conventional TV aerials (including their mountings and poles) are not classified as ‘development’, and therefore do not require planning permission.

Under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (as amended), you do not need planning permission to install an antenna up to a specific size on your property.  The rules that apply depend on the building as a whole and not to each separate flat.
 

Rules for houses and buildings up to 15 metres high

Unless the property is in a designated area, you do not need to apply for planning permission to install an antenna on the property, as long as:
  • There will be no more than two antennas on the property overall (these may be on the front or back of the building, on the roof, attached to the chimney or in the garden)
  • If you’re installing a single antenna, it is not more than 100 centimetres in any linear dimension (not including any projecting feed element, reinforcing rim, mounting and brackets)
  • If you’re installing two antennas, one is not more than 100 centimetres in any linear dimension, and the other is not more than 60 centimetres in any linear dimension (not including any projecting feed element, reinforcing rim, mounting and brackets)
  • The cubic capacity of each individual is not more than 35 litres
  • An antenna fitted onto a chimney stack is not more than 60 centimetres and does not stick out above the chimney; and
  • An antenna mounted on the roof only sticks out above the roof when there is a chimney stack.  In this case, the antenna should not stick out more than 60 centimetres above the highest part of the roof or above the highest part of the chimney stack, whichever is lower.

Rules for buildings more than 15 metres high

Unless the building is in a designated area, you do not need planning permission to install a dish or other antenna on the property, as long as:
  • There will be no more than four antennas on the building overall
  • The size of any antenna is not more than 130 centimetres in any linear dimension (not including any projecting feed element, reinforcing rim, mounting and brackets)
  • The cubic capacity of each individual antenna is not more than 35 litres
  • An antenna fitted onto a chimney stack is not more than 60 centimetres in any linear dimension; and
  • An antenna mounted on the building does not stick out above the highest part of the building by more than 300 centimetres.
If the number of dishes or antennas installed on the building has already reached the maximum allowed, you will need planning permission to install another antenna.

Special rules apply for buildings in designated areas.  These are defined within Schedule 1, Part 2, of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995.

Installing CCTV

Please see our CCTV Policy for more information on what you need to do if you want to install CCTV at your home.

Planting or removing trees in your garden

You’re responsible for maintaining trees in your garden, to make sure they’re safe and not causing any damage. 

You should not damage trees within the boundary of your home, or cut down or remove any tree or shrub forming a boundary of your home, without our permission in writing.

We won’t allow you to plant fast-growing varieties such as maple, beech, poplar, willow, elm, oak, chestnut or conifers such as Leylandii.

A shed, greenhouse, garage, or garden room

Depending on its size, construction and whether or not you plan to connect it to the electrics, a shed can be classified as a minor or major home improvement.

An example of a minor improvement is a wooden shed or greenhouse on a base no larger than 8ft by 6ft without an electrical supply.

We can give you advice on our building requirements, and the appropriate location for a garden shed or greenhouse.

We won’t give permission under any circumstances for:
  • Treehouses
  • Buildings for people to sleep in
  • Buildings to house pigeons.
  • We’ll require more specific requirements for a brick-built or other permanent structure.
Always check if you need planning permission with your local authority.

Some general guidelines on detached buildings are:
  • As a guide, you should be able to walk all around your building so you can decorate and repair it, and to prevent damp
  • We do not give permission for outbuildings on land in front of a wall forming the principal elevation
  • Outbuildings and garages must be single storey, with a maximum eaves height of 2.5 metres and maximum overall height of four metres (for a dual pitched roof) or three metres (for any other roof)
  • If it’s within two metres of the boundary of your home and the land immediately surrounding it, it must have a maximum height of 2.5 metres
  • It must be built at least 2.5 metres from the main property.  You should send us a map of the garden, including boundaries and other buildings, so we can assess this quickly
  • No more than half the area of land around the “original house” should be covered by additions or other buildings.

Installing a garden pond

Although it’s classified as a minor home improvement, installing a pond is a large job, and you must seek our permission first. You must also be aware of the risk they pose to young children and pets.

You must consider:
  • The location
  • The contours of your garden
  • How excess rainwater will drain away from the pond
  • The pond will need a property pond liner and pump
  • The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (some species are protected by this Act).
If you end your tenancy, we’ll ask you to remove the pond.  Or we may remove/fill in the pond ourselves as part of the work to re-let the property and recharge you.

Changing the cupboard doors or work surfaces in your kitchen

If you want to change the cupboard doors in your kitchen, or change any of the kitchen work surfaces, you’ll need our permission first. 

We also recommend you contact us first to check when your kitchen is due to be upgraded.

Adaptations in your home

If you need help getting around your home, then we'll do all we can to make sure your home meets your needs.

We can provide equipment and make adaptations to your home so you can remain independent.

Find out more.

 

Major home improvements:

Building or removing a wall, or adding a door to a wall

Walls
Building a new wall (stud or any other construction method), removing a wall or adding a door to a wall are all considered major home improvements.

When reviewing your request, we’ll consider if the:
  • Work will devalue your home
  • Work would make your home less safe
  • Wall is load bearing
  • The work would result in additional costs to us.
It’s important to speak to appropriate professional, for example an architect or structural surveyor) when making major changes to your property.

Doors

You must not remove or change fire safety doors, internal communal doors or communal external doors under any circumstances.

If you live in a home with its own front door, you must ask our permission if you want to replace or paint it.  In certain areas, local planning restrictions don’t allow you to change the colour of your front door.  Remember to check with your local authority first.

Adding an extension or conservatory

Extensions and conservatories are always considered a major home improvement. Each extension or conservatory is different and you should always speak to your local authority to make sure you comply with building and planning regulations.

You must obtain any local authority permissions before applying to us and send us:
  • Copies of all relevant permissions
  • Estimated timescales
  • Three quotations for the work and the name of the company you wish to use.
We may refuse your application if the work will:
  • Devalue your home
  • Make your home less safe or there are safety issues associated with the work
  • Restrict ladder access to your other properties
  • Result in additional costs to us
  • Interfere with future major repairs we need to carry out.

Any changes to your loft space

Any changes to your loft space are considered a major improvement. 

It’s important you speak to appropriate professionals (for example an architect or structural surveyor) when making major changes to your home. You should always speak to your local authority first to make sure you comply with building and planning regulations.

We do not allow any changes to a loft space where it relates to more than one home.  And we do not allow storage of large or heavy household items in the loft space. 

If you’re considering boarding out your loft for storage of small or light household items, the boarding should only extend to 1.5 metres from the loft hatch.

You need to consider any insulation you have. It’s recommended that any insulation is 270mm thick, which means you might want to raise the boarding to allow for air flow.  If you board straight onto the joists without raising the boards, condensation may form, and drip to cause damp.

You must obtain any local authority permissions before applying to us and send us:
  • Copies of all relevant permissions
  • Estimated timescales
  • Three quotations for the work and the name of the company you wish to use.

Any changes to your heating and/or hot water system

We don’t usually allow changes to the heating and hot water system in your home because:
  • Managing heating and hot water systems is a critical safety issue
  • We’re responsible for annual servicing and maintenance to comply with Regulations
  • We need to know and understand the heating and hot water systems in all our homes
  • We promote fuel efficiency.  Some heating fixtures, such as log burners, aren’t as efficient as others and may be prohibited in designated smoke control areas
  • There’s a risk of dangerous gases escaping; especially if the ventilation isn’t right.
In exceptional circumstances where we’ll consider a change (for example if you want to add an extension to your home which will mean an extension to your heating/hot water systems), you must send us details of:
  • The work you want to do
  • The materials (e.g. make and model of boilers or radiators) you intend to use
  • The contractors you intend to use (they must be professional certified to a standard applicable to the work).
In such circumstances, this will form part of your application for an extension  which is a major improvement.

Changes to your electrics & plumbing e.g. installing an additional electrical socket

You may want to make changes to your electrics or plumbing that aren’t considered repairs, such as installing an additional electrical socket or an outside tap. 

These types of work may be dangerous, and can cause damage to your home if they aren’t done correctly.
You should always make sure work carried out is done to industry standards, and those working on them are qualified.

If you make changes to these supplies, you must send us gas and/or electrical certificates.

Kitchens & Bathrooms

We plan to upgrade kitchens and bathrooms in your homes at defined intervals. We advise you check with us when the work to your home is due to take place.

You may want to upgrade your kitchen or bathroom more regularly, or to a higher standard. Or you may want to upgrade specific elements, like a kitchen cabinet, or change a bath for a shower. Depending on the scale of your proposed changes, the work may be categorised as a minor or major improvement.

For example, changing the cupboard doors or work surfaces in your kitchen is categorised as a minor improvement. Larger changes, such as moving the sink or adding more electric sockets are both major improvements. You’ll need to apply for permission to make any of these changes.

Like all major work, we’ll look to agree the changes as long as the work is carried out by professional tradespeople. If you want to change the layout of your bathroom, you will need to speak to Building Control at your local authority.

Dropped kerbs

If you want to change the kerb in front of your home to a dropped kerb, this is considered a major home improvement.  If you intend to drive a vehicle over the footpath into your driveway, you’ll need a dropped kerb and hardstanding.

We may give you permission on the following conditions:
  • You send us written permission from your local authority (a Certificate of Works)
  • Planning permission from your local authority (where needed)
  • The parking area must be hard kerbed.We won’t agree to you parking on the grass or on slabs laid directly onto the grass.

Installing a new fence or building a wall on your boundary

Image: fence boundaryFence lines (commonly referred to as boundaries) are marked in a number of different ways and the person responsible will vary property to property.

The most common fence lines are:

  • Timber panels
  • Chestnut / split chestnut poles
  • Wire mesh
  • Picket 
  • Brick walls.


Our responsibilities:

As your landlord, we’re responsible for fences, walls and gates that border public highways and paths.  We’re also responsible for fence lines in common areas of blocks or flats.

We’ll repair these items when they’re damaged on a like-for-like basis.  We’ll also replace sections of fencing if we’re unable to repair it.

Where it would be more cost-effective to replace a damaged brick wall with a wooden fence, we’ll do so.  Where we replace with wooden fencing we’ll use unstained pressure-treated timber.

We do not provide privacy panels.
 

Your responsibilities:

Residents are responsible for fences, walls and gates that do not adjoin public highways or paths (unless your tenancy agreement says the landlord is responsible). This includes fence lines between gardens, regardless of whether the neighbour or land owner is a private owner. 

The left hand boundary (as you look at your house from the front) is usually your responsibility.

It is quite common for neighbours to share the cost of repairing/replacing a fence.  If you live in an end of terrace (i.e. you don’t share the boundary and don’t border on a public highway), the left-hand boundary will be your responsibility. 

One general rule is the posts and arris rails show on the side of the boundary owner. 

If you’re in any doubt about who is responsible, refer to your Tenancy Agreement or contact us.
 

Installing a new fence

If you want to install a new fence that requires planning permission, you must seek our permission.

You may need planning permission to install a new fence if it’s a:
  • Fence over one metre high next to a highway (or a footpath next to a highway)
  • Fence over two metres high elsewhere.

Always check if you need planning permission with the local authority.

 

Treating Fencing:

Regardless of who is responsible for the fence, a resident may treat it with a stain or creosote in a natural colour (i.e. shades of brown or green). 

Paint is not a suitable fence treatment.
 

Contents Insurance:

Most insurers exclude storm damage to fence-lines from their cover.

A few include it as an optional extra but you might need to have your main policy with them. It’s always worth asking when you request a quote.
 

Adaptations in your home

If you need help getting around your home, then we'll do all we can to make sure your home meets your needs.

We can provide equipment and make adaptations to your home so you can remain independent.

Find out more.


The above list is not exhaustive, there are many other types of home improvements.

A free consultation with us will determine whether your plans are major or minor.

We do not charge to assess minor improvements.

We do charge an assessment fee for major improvements as there is a lot to consider.  The cost is £110 + VAT, and you need to pay this in full when you apply for permission. This assessment fee is non-refundable.