Improving your council home

Tenants of council-owned homes are encouraged to make improvements or alterations to their home, but they need to ask for permission first. We normally give permission for most home improvements, but we often attach conditions.

We also have to ensure that a competent contractor carries out the work and that it is completed to an acceptable standard.

Granting permission will normally include setting a time limit for completing the work. You must tell us when the work has been done in case we need to inspect it.


Depending on the scale of your improvements, we may want to inspect your property before granting permission. We may also want to inspect the work after completion.

Refusal of permission

We will only refuse permission if we have a good reason. If we do refuse, we will write to you and tell you why. If you disagree with our decision (or we attach conditions that you do not agree with) you can appeal in a letter to us.

Apply for permission

Download and complete the council home improvements application form.

In making your application you will need to provide full details of the work that you want to do and who is going to do it. You should also enclose copies of any drawings or plans, planning permissions, and any other relevant documents.

You should email the completed form to:

Please be aware that it may take up to 5 working days for us to confirm receipt of your email. Once our processors receive the email, they will confirm which surveyor they have passed the enquiry to. The surveyor will then be in contact directly.

Reclaiming improvement costs

In some circumstances, you have a right to reclaim the cost of improvements you've made. You can apply for a refund when your tenancy ends - usually when you move home and you have up to 14 days after your tenancy ends to make a claim.

You will not be able to claim if you are buying your home through the Right to Buy Scheme because improvements are not included in the purchase price.

For further information about home improvements to your council home, please see your right to compensation for improvements.

Improvements for which you can claim

  • Bath or shower, wash-hand basin and toilet
  • Kitchen sink and work surfaces for preparing food
  • Storage cupboards in bathroom or kitchen
  • Central heating, hot water boilers and other types of heating
  • Thermostatic radiator valves
  • Pipe, water or cylinder insulation
  • Loft and cavity wall insulation
  • Draught-proofing of external doors and windows
  • Double-glazing or other window replacement or secondary glazing
  • Rewiring, or the provision of power and lighting or other electrical fittings (including smoke detectors)
  • Security measures (excluding burglar alarms)

Expenses covered

If you are claiming the cost of improvements, the following are details of what you can claim for:

  • The cost of materials (but not appliances such as cookers and fridges)
  • Labour costs (but not your own)

How much you can claim

You can claim for any one improvement if the cost is between £50 and £3,000.

The amount of compensation will depend on:

  • The condition of the improvement when you claim (older improvements will be worth less)
  • Whether you got a grant at the time to help with the cost of the improvement (if you did, then this will be deducted)
  • Whether you owe us any rent money

Further information

For further guidance about alterations and improvements to your council home, please see the tenant alteration and improvements guidance document.

Please take the following into account:

  • Keep receipts for all the work that is carried out. You will need these if you want to claim compensation for improvements when your tenancy ends.
  • You may need planning permission for some improvements. You are responsible for getting this and also meeting all the current building regulations. The permission we give you to go ahead does not replace the need for you to get planning permission.
  • You will be responsible for repairing and maintaining any home improvement that you make.
  • You will be responsible for putting right any damage caused to the property while the improvement work is being carried out.
  • If you carry out any improvements without our permission, you will have to return the property to its original condition and pay for that work. If you do not do so, we will do it and charge you the full cost.

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