Tenant's home improvements

You usually 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 make improvements.

Examples of an improvement include:

  • insulating your loft
  • replacing single glazing with double glazing windows
  • fitting new kitchen units
  • redecorating
  • building a garden shed

Council or housing association tenants

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

This could include:

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

Check what your tenancy agreement says because you may need permission for small improvements such as getting a garden shed or putting in new kitchen cabinets.

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.

Private tenants

You will usually need your landlord's permission to make any improvements to a private rented home.

This could include:

  • painting or redecorating
  • tiling a bathroom or kitchen
  • changing carpets

Check what your tenancy agreement says and get your landlord’s agreement in writing before you start any work.

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 tenancy such as an assured tenancy or pre-1989 regulated tenancy.

Energy saving improvements

You can ask your landlord for permission to make your home more energy efficient.

Make the request in writing and tell your landlord about the improvements you want to make.

This could include installing:

  • new wall insulation
  • a wireless thermostat
  • energy efficient windows and doors

You will need to cover the cost of these improvements.

Improvements if you have a disability

Your landlord should make reasonable adjustments to make sure your home meets any disability requirements you may have.

What's reasonable depends on each individual situation. Landlords are not allowed to treat disabled tenants less favourably than others.

Landlords can consider the length of your tenancy, how much work is involved and if permission is needed from anyone else.

You have to ask your landlord to make reasonable changes for you. For example, you could ask to add a ramp to your home.

If you want to make improvements to your home, you may be able to apply for a disabled facilities grant to fund certain improvements.

You must also ask for your landlord's permission first before you make improvements but your landlord can't unreasonably refuse.

Improvements your landlord makes

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.

It's usually your landlord's responsibility to carry out the work that's needed if there's a:

  • risk to your health or safety
  • repair problem that can’t be fixed unless improvement work is carried out

Still need advice?

Contact a Shelter adviser online, by phone or in person


Last updated 14 Jun 2018 | © Shelter

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