This page is targeted at housing professionals. Our main site is at www.shelter.org.uk

Housing renewal assistance system

This content applies to England & Wales

Housing renewal assistance system .

Overview

The present system for housing renewal assistance was introduced on 18 July 2002 by the Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) Order 2002.[1] It replaced the old grants system with a broad general power to allow local authorities to give assistance for home repair, improvement and adaptation, subject only to limited constraints. The order replaced Part 1 of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996, as a result of which, the detailed provisions relating to the following were repealed:

  • discretionary Disabled Facilities Grants
  • renovation grants
  • houses in multiple occupation (HMO) grants
  • common parts grants
  • group repair assistance
  • home repair assistance.

It is still possible, however, for local authorities to provide assistance in the form of a grant, where it is considered that this is the most appropriate form of assistance for housing renewal. Further, although the order makes minor amendments in relation to mandatory Disabled Facilities Grants, these have not been abolished. (For more information, please see the page on Disabled Facilities Grants.)

Grant applications made before 18 July 2003

The current regulatory framework does not apply to applications for discretionary Disabled Facilities Grants, renovation grants, home repair assistance grants, common parts grants or houses in multiple occupation grants that were approved before 18 July 2003. An applicant who successfully applied for one of these grants before 18 July 2003 will have her/his claim dealt with under the old grants regime, information on which can be obtained from the relevant local authority.

During the 12-month transitional period between July 2002 and July 2003, these grants existed alongside local authorities' powers to grant housing renewal assistance, in accordance with the current framework. It is no longer possible, however, to apply for these grants.

Scope of the housing renewal system

For the purpose of improving living conditions in its area, a local housing authority has powers to provide, directly or indirectly, assistance (usually in the form of a loan or a grant) to any person to enable her/him to:[2]

  • acquire alternative living accommodation (whether within or outside the local authority area), provided that the local authority has decided to purchase (compulsorily or otherwise), her/his current accommodation, or has decided that acquiring new accommodation would provide the client with a similar benefit to adapting, improving or repairing her/his current accommodation
  • adapt or improve living accommodation (whether by alteration, conversion, enlargement, or installation)
  • repair living accommodation
  • demolish accommodation, or a building in which accommodation is situated
  • where a building comprising or including living accommodation has been demolished; construct a building that comprises or includes replacement living accommodation.

Local authority's housing renewal policy

Although a local housing authority has a wide discretion as to the types of assistance it can offer and the conditions which a person must meet before s/he qualifies for assistance, it cannot use its power in any particular case until it has published, and subsequently adopted, a strategy on how this power will be exercised.[3] The local authority must also ensure that a copy of the full policy document is available for inspection free of charge at its principal office at all reasonable times, and that a copy of a summary of the policy is available by post, for which the authority may charge a reasonable amount.

The assistance that may be available is therefore dependent on a particular local authority's policy, and advisers must ensure that they have a copy of the policy for the relevant authority when explaining the options that are available to a client. Any assistance must be provided in accordance with the local authority's policy.

The policy should include time limits, with which the local authority must comply, for deciding applications. Further, the local authority must consider applications on a case-by-case basis.

[1] Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002 SI 2002/1860.

[2] article 3(1) Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002 SI 2002/1860; Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002 SI 2002/1860.

[3] article 4 Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002; Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002 SI 2002/1860; Zaman v Portsmouth CC [2018] EWHC 3592 (QB).

Back to top