Tenant's home improvements

Find out when you need your landlord's permission to make improvements to your private, council or housing association home.

What counts as an improvement?

Your landlord has a duty to carry out most repairs in your home but doesn't usually have to carry out improvements.

Examples of an improvement include:

  • insulating your loft
  • installing double glazing to replace single glazed windows
  • replacing kitchen units with new ones
  • redecorating
  • putting up a garden shed

Council or housing association tenant's home improvements

If you rent your home from the council or a housing association, you always need their written permission for major improvements such as:

  • dividing a room to create an extra bedroom
  • installing a new kitchen of your choice

You might need permission for small improvements such as getting a garden shed. Check what your tenancy agreement says.

Council tenants usually have to pay for their own improvements. You might be able to get compensation for doing certain improvements, but only when your tenancy ends.

You are usually responsible for decorating your home and don't need your landlord's permission.

Find out more about repairs and maintenance in council and housing association homes.

Private tenant's home improvements

You will usually need your landlord's permission to make any improvements to a private rented home. This includes painting or redecorating. Get their agreement in writing.

Check what your tenancy agreement says.

Your landlord might agree to improvements you want to make if you agree to put things back the way they were when you leave.

It's usually your responsibility to pay for any improvements you make.

If you don't have a long-term tenancy agreement you might not benefit much from any improvements you make. It can be worthwhile if you have a more secure type of private tenancy such as an assured tenancy or pre-1989 regulated tenancy.

Energy saving improvements

You might qualify for energy saving home improvements and be able get help with fuel bills.

Use Shelter's energy costs saving tool to find out if you're eligible.

Find out more about government help with heating costs.

Improvements if you have a disability

Your landlord should make reasonable adjustments to make sure you're not put at a serious disadvantage because of a disability. What's reasonable depends on each individual situation. Landlords are not allowed to treat disabled tenants less favourably than others.

You have to ask your landlord to make reasonable changes for you. For example, you could ask to add a ramp over a small front doorstep.

If you want to make some improvements to your rented home because of a disability, you'll usually have to pay for them. You may be able to apply for a disabled facilities grant. You must also ask for your landlord's permission first before you make improvements but your landlord can't unreasonably refuse.

Find out more about getting adaptations done.

What to do if your home is unsafe

An improvement may sometimes be needed to fix a repair problem or because there is a risk to your health and safety in the home if it's not done.

If there's a risk to your health or safety, it's usually your landlord's responsibility to carry out the work that's needed.

Find out how to complain about an unsafe home.

Get advice from a housing adviser if your landlord won't help.

Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre.

Last updated 28 Oct 2015 | © Shelter

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