Landlord responsibilities for improvements in your home

Improvements could be large or small. For example:

  • disability adaptations

  • painting and decorating

  • new carpets or furniture

  • a new kitchen or bathroom

  • replacement windows or loft insulation

Your landlord must sort out most repairs in your home when you ask them to.

Improvements are different to repairs. In most cases, your landlord does not have to do them but you could still ask for them.

It might be easier to get improvements if you've lived there a long time, or you rent from a council or housing association.

You could ask for permission to do the improvements yourself if your landlord will not improve your home.

Disability adaptations

You can ask for home adaptations if you or someone you live with counts as disabled under the Equality Act 2010.

Your landlord must make 'reasonable adjustments' if it makes it easier to live in your home with a disability. For example, you can ask them to:

  • provide signs or notices

  • replace taps or door handles

  • change a door bell or entry system

What is reasonable can depend on what is practical and affordable for your landlord. Councils and housing associations may have to do more than private landlords.  

Your landlord cannot charge you for these improvements.

They do not have to make structural changes or pay for expensive adaptations.

Find out more about disability adaptations from Scope.

Disabled facilities grants

You might be able to get a grant to pay for improvements that cost over £1,000 and are needed to help you or someone in your household with a disability.

For example, a grant can be used to:

  • widen doorways or provide ramps

  • put in a ground floor bathroom or stairlift

  • provide or improve the heating system

You need your landlord's permission even if you can get a grant to pay for the work.

Find out more about disabled facilities grants from Scope.

Painting and decorating

There are no rules about how often a private landlord should redecorate. The deposit protection schemes suggest repainting every 3 to 5 years.

Your landlord may have to decorate more often. For example, if a wall needs plastering or repainting after they fix a leak or a damp problem.

You usually need your landlord's permission to paint or redecorate if you're a private tenant.

Council and housing association tenants can usually paint and decorate your own homes. Some social landlords give small redecoration grants to tenants.

Replacement carpets, furniture and appliances

If you have a private tenancy, things might need replacing if they break or get very old. This is sometimes called 'wear and tear'. It is different to damage caused by a tenant.

Check your tenancy agreement. See what it says about things like cookers, fridge freezers, washing machines, beds or sofas.

Good landlords should repair or replace these even if it's not mentioned in your agreement.

There are no rules about how often a private landlord should replace carpets or furniture.

Guidance from mydeposits suggests:

  • cheap carpets need replacing every 3 years

  • beds need replacing every 5 years

  • mattresses and sofas need replacing every 8 years

Good landlords might replace mattresses more often between tenancies.

New kitchens, bathrooms, heating or insulation

Private landlords might make these types of improvements because:

  • you ask for them and they want to help

  • they want to improve the property for new tenants or for a sale

  • the council has ordered major improvements because there is a risk to your health

Find out how to ask the council to inspect your private rented home.

Housing association and council tenants

Ask your landlord if there are any planned improvement or refurbishment works.

You could ask for permission to do the work yourself if your landlord has no planned works.

Ask a private landlord for improvements

Send an email or a letter. Keep it polite and friendly.

Make sure you explain how the improvement will help if it's related to a disability.

It helps if you have have lived there for some time and get on with your landlord or agent.

Be prepared to negotiate if your landlord does not have to carry out the improvement.

You could point out that the improvement will:

  • increase the property's value

  • make it easier to rent out or sell

Consider offering something towards the cost of the improvement. Do not offer too much if you have an assured shorthold tenancy. You could be made to leave your home in the future.

Be aware that your landlord might increase the rent if the property is improved.

Get any agreement in writing

Make sure you get any agreement in writing. You should get details of:

  • what is agreed

  • who is paying for what

  • the schedule of works

  • any agreement about rent during and after the work

Last updated: 12 October 2023

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