Housing Options Guide-3c
This section tells you about:
- Home improvements for occupied private housing
- Scheme of assistance
- Housing grants
- Improvement and repair grant criteria
- Grant application process
- Energy assistance
Home improvements for occupied private housing
Most people want to stay in their own home for as long as possible but may need help tackling problems with an old or unsuitable home. Although the main responsibility for maintaining a privately owned property lies with the owner, we have a Scheme of Assistance that aims to improve the condition of housing in Moray. We can give free advice to home owners and private tenants, and in some cases may be able to offer grant assistance and practical help.
Scheme of Assistance
Our Scheme of Assistance offers free advice and assistance to home owners and private tenants to help carry out house alterations, repairs, adaptations and improvements so they can live comfortably and independently for as long as possible in their own home. Organising and financing building and repair work can be a complicated and often a stressful experience but we can help to ease the burden.
We offer a Care and Repair service to home owners and private tenants who are over aged sixty years or over or are disabled to help with having their homes improved, repaired or adapted. Housing grant assistance for certain works may be available to people who are on low incomes or are disabled. Under the Care and Repair service we can:
- help by discussing what improvements, repairs or adaptations are needed;
- help get estimates from reputable contractors and produce plans if needed;
- make sure the work is finished to an acceptable standard; and
- help with paperwork including filling in a housing grant application.
Housing grant assistance is only available to Care and Repair clients. Most grants are discretionary and almost all are now subject to a test of financial resources (also called means testing). However, under certain conditions, some grants for adapting a property to suit the needs of a disabled person are mandatory and we must approve these. Section 5 has information on housing options for disabled people.
We will not award grants to cover works that:
- improve an already satisfactory house (for example, by enlarging a property);
- support the commercial activity of a landlord;
- are equivalent to building a new house (for example, where what is essentially a new home is built on little more than the foundations or part of the walls of a derelict building).
The following is a description of the housing grants currently available.
Improvement grants – Disability Adaptations - Care and Repair clients only
A mixture of discretionary and mandatory improvement grants are available to adapt houses and make them suitable for occupants with disabilities. For example, by installing level access showers, ramps, stairlifts or purpose built extensions to accommodate a ground floor bedroom or bathroom.
A mandatory improvement grant is also available if a house already has a standard amenity but needs a second one more suitably located for a disabled person.
Repair grants – Care and Repair clients only
Discretionary repair grants may be given for work to both the internal and external fabric of a house, which is needed to maintain a property and make it more comfortable for someone to remain living in their property. Such works could include replacement windows, eradication of dampness or renewal of electrical wiring. Please call us to discuss any specific enquiries or concerns you may have on 0300 1234566.
Discretionary repair grants may also be available for replacing lead piping or reducing exposure to radon gas.
If we think that a house is in a serious state of disrepair, or is likely to fall into serious disrepair, we can serve a works notice on the property to make the owner repair the faults.
Grants may be available to help with works specified in a notice served by us on a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) that needs a fire escape.
Works eligible for grant – Care and Repair clients only
The following are examples of work that may receive a grant:
- Work to bring the house up to the statutory Tolerable Standard by the provision of standard amenities, dealing with structural instability or eradication of severe dampness; the Standard amenities are a sink, a fixed bath or shower, a wash hand basin.
- Alteration and enlargement, where this is necessary to provide adequate kitchen or bathroom facilities where none currently exists, or to meet the needs of a disabled person;
- Replacement of unsafe electrical wiring;
- Installation of mains powered smoke detectors;
- First time provision of heating systems - only if other works are being carried out;
- Provision of adequate thermal insulation if other works are being carried out;
- Work needed to make the house suitable for the accommodation, welfare or employment of a disabled person or purpose built extensions to accommodate a ground floor bathroom or bedroom;
- Works to repair both the internal and external fabric of a house which is needed to maintain the property. For example, repairs to walls, roofs and the eradication of rot which could be affecting the structure
- The replacement of water supply pipes which are made of lead;
- Work intended to reduce exposure to radon gas;
- In buildings in common ownership, the provision of a fire retardant entrance door and a main door entry-phone system.
Improvement and repair grant criteria
Click here (pdf) to see the table showing home improvements grant criteria.
The expenditure limits and eligibility criteria are set by law and cannot normally be changed. In very exceptional circumstances, we can apply to the Scottish Government for an increase in the limits. Any decision to do this is at our discretion.
The owner(s) of the house will normally be the applicant. However, if you are one of the following you are also eligible to apply:
- Agricultural and crofting tenants;
- Life renters, and;
- Private tenants if you are responsible for planned works. The responsibility must be by means of a formal repairing lease and such an agreement must have been in existence for more than two years before the date of application.
To apply for a grant you will need to fill in an application form. A member of our team will normally visit you at home to fill in the application form with you. They will need to see evidence of your income and expenditure and proof of ownership.
- at least two competitive tenders from contractors for all proposed works;
- detailed priced specifications with the various trades broken down into individually priced items – lump sum estimates are unacceptable. If we think that the proposed works do not justify the preparation of such detailed estimates, a simpler form of priced specification may be accepted. For example where the application relates solely to one item or to certain repairs. Professional fees may form part of the cost on which grant is based. Our team can produce plans, help you to identify suitable contractors and help you obtain quotations.
If work of damp-proof course insertion and/or dry rot eradication is proposed, your estimates must be obtained from firms who are prepared to guarantee the work for a period of 30 years from the completion of the project.
During the course of the improvement/repair works we may decide to inspect the work at any time.
Approving a grant
Discretionary grant applications will only be approved when there are sufficient funds available. There is no time limit as to when an individual application will be approved. Our budget is limited and the approval of any grant depends on the availability of funds at the time of application.
Approved grants will be based either on the lowest single contractor or separate trades estimates submitted. A grant will only be paid if one of the contractors who tendered for the works is employed, unless with our specific prior agreement. If you want to appoint a more expensive contractor you will be responsible for the additional cost.
Invoices for the grant can be submitted to us and can be paid in up to four instalments. The final payment will be made after we are satisfied that the planned works have been completed properly.
Applications for payment by instalments will be considered only on the basis that:
a) at least 25% of the grant earning works are completed to our satisfaction before payment of the first instalment; and
b) the remainder of the works are fully completed within 12 months of the date of the first instalment, provided the first instalment is claimed within six months of the date of approval.
Home Improvement Team
Housing and Property
PO Box 6760
Phone: 0300 123 4566
There may be a number of initiatives available in the area at various times.
These could include energy saving improvements such as;
- Loft insulation
- External wall insulation
- Energy efficient boilers
- Renewable energy technology and/or cavity fill
You can find helpful tips on energy saving measures clicking the following links:
Moray Handy Persons Service
Help for small DIY jobs around the home. They cannot carry out larger repairs such as those included in the Scheme of Assistance but may help with smaller jobs like hanging a picture or fixing a broken shelf. For more information on Moray Handy Persons Service click here or phone 01343 559739.