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Local authority powers to improve and maintain housing conditions

This content applies to England

Other powers local authorities have with regard to improving and maintaining housing conditions in their area, namely the power to declare Renewal Areas and to offer financial assistance.

Renewal Areas

Local authorities can declare a Renewal Area where there is an area that requires action to improve the living conditions.[1] The local authority must comply with conditions set out by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.[2]

In a declared Renewal Area local authorities have the power to compulsorily purchase property with a view to improving or repairing it, securing the well-being of people living in the area or securing the proper management of housing accommodation. They can also acquire property in order to improve amenities in the area. Property which has been acquired may have works carried out on it or may be demolished. Owners of property not acquired by the authority may be assisted with grants, loans or by the local authority carrying out or paying for work itself.[3] The local authority can give whatever assistance it thinks appropriate to owners of housing within the area, so long as it is in accordance with the published policy. Works to improve the general environment of the area, for example traffic management schemes and landscaping can be subsidised.

Financial assistance

Local authorities have powers to give assistance (mainly by grants and loans) to any person for:

  • the acquisition of living accommodation
  • the adaptation or improvement of living accommodation
  • the repair of living accommodation
  • the demolition of buildings comprising or including living accommodation
  • the construction of replacement living accommodation to replace living accommodation that has been demolished.[4]

These are dealt with in the section on Grants for improvements and repairs.


The information on this page applies only to England. Go to Shelter Cymru for information relating to Wales.

[1] s.89(1) Local Government and Housing Act 1989.

[2] Annex E Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Circular 05/2003.

[3] Annex E, Appendix 1 Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Circular 05/2003.

[4] Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002 SI 2002/186.

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