Improvements and Alterations
As an Orwell resident you have the right to carry out improvements to your home providing you have obtained written consent from us and all other necessary approvals. We reserve the right to request that the property is returned to its original condition where alterations are carried out without our prior consent.
Conditions for tenants’ own improvements and alterations:
Work must not start until you have received written approval from us. We will not unreasonably withhold consent.
- You should provide details of the work to be carried out with drawings and sketches if necessary.
- You must provide three quotations from bona fide contractors and give reasons for choosing a particular quote.
- The work must be carried out in a competent manner using new materials and to our satisfaction.
- All work must comply with planning, building and other statutory regulations as appropriate. We will require proof that these consents have been obtained prior to the work starting.
- Any work to a gas central heating system must by law be carried out by a Gas Safe™ registered installer and test certificates provided.
- Any alterations to an electrical installation must be checked and certified by a qualified electrician. If you fail to provide evidence of testing with a certificate we will need to carry out the test and recharge you the full costs of doing this work.
- You will be responsible for the future maintenance of the improvement, alteration, including any additional costs of maintenance due to the alteration/improvement.
- Any damage to the property during the course of the work will be your responsibility.
- When the work is complete you should inform us so that a member of our staff can make an inspection.
- If the work is not completed to our satisfaction, it will be your responsibility to have any faults put right and if this is not done, we reserve the right to make good the faults and charge you the cost.
- If at the end of the tenancy you wish to remove the improvement or alteration, the property must be re-instated to its former condition.
- We reserve the right, at the end of the tenancy, to insist that you be restore the property to its previous state. Should you fail to carry out this request, then we may complete the work and charge you the cost.
- If you move and leave the improvement or alteration in the property and we decide this is acceptable, then the improvement or alteration will become our property as will the future maintenance liability.
Our Housing Officers are always happy to give preliminary advice on its tenants’ responsibilities in relation to alterations and improvements.
We will not make a financial contribution to your own improvements and alterations, unless an agreement is made before work starts and compensation for improvements will only be paid when you finally move on.
It is therefore important that you keep any receipts for work done in a safe place as it may be several years before you can claim.
The Right to Compensation for Improvements
If you wish to be compensated for improvements that you make to your property you will need to check with your Housing Officer that certain criteria are met.
You will need to follow the guidelines as set out before we will give permission in writing for the work to start.
We will inspect the improvements when completed, and sometimes whilst they are in progress. When permission is given by us to start work we will inform you that compensation will only be paid when you move out and this may be deducted from any money that you may owe to us.
You will also be made aware that the final sum of compensation payable will not be the full amount you paid to the Contractor, as depreciation will be deducted.
You should also note that if your tenancy is ended through possession proceedings because you have broken the terms of your agreement, you may forfeit any compensation.
At the time of writing, compensation is limited to sums between £50 and £3,000. To calculate the compensation payable, the Association use the following formula:
C x (l-y/n) where: C = cost of improvement (excluding grants); N = notional life of improvement; Y= number of years completed (rounded up).
The Association may adjust the calculated payment for the following reasons:
- The cost of the improvement is excessive.
- The improvement is of a higher standard than Orwell would normally effect.
- The improvement has deteriorated faster than the notional life suggests.
- The improvement has deteriorated less than the notional life suggests.
The following is a list of improvements which may qualify for compensation, with their anticipated life span.
- Bath or shower (12 years)
- Wash-hand basin (12 years)
- Toilet (12 years)
- Kitchen sink (10 years)
- Storage cupboards in bathroom or kitchen (10 years)
- Work surfaces for food preparation (10 years)
- Space or water heating (12 years)
- Thermostatic radiator valves (7 years)
- Insulation of pipes, water tank or cylinder (10 years)
- Loft insulation (20 years)
- Cavity wall insulation (20 years)
- Draught proofing of external doors or windows (8 years)
- Double glazing or other external window replacement or secondary glazing (20 years)
- Rewiring or the provision of power and lighting (including smoke detectors) (15 years)
- Any object which improves the security of the property but excluding burglar alarms (10 years)
These will be dealt with within 6 hours.
- Total loss of electrical power – if you have a card meter please check you have credit on the card.
- Unsafe power, lighting socket or electrical fitting likely to cause injury.
- Total loss of water supply.
- Total or partial loss of gas supply or leak.
- Blocked flue to open fire or boiler.
- Total or partial loss of space or water heating where there is a vulnerable person.
- Blocked or leaking foul drain, soil stack, or toilet pan (where there is no other working toilet in the property).
- Uncontrollable leaking from water or heating pipe, tank or cistern.
- Insecure external window, door or lock.
- Structural damage to property e.g. fire, storm or flood.
- Failure of lift.
- Failure of warden call alarm system.
- Faulty fire alarm system.
- Removal of offensive or racist graffiti.
These will be dealt with within 21 calendar days.
- Partial loss of electric power.
- Partial loss of water supply.
- Total or partial loss of room or water heating. (1st April to 30th September)
- Blocked sink, bath or basin (this may be a re-chargeable repair).
- Defective cistern or overflow.
- Minor plumbing leaks/defects.
- Leaking roof (of property – not sheds/outbuildings).
- Faulty timber flooring or stair tread.
- Door entry phone not working.
- Loose or detached banister or hand rail.
- Smoke detectors – check that the battery does not simply need replacement.
- Renew door furniture.
- Renew lock.
- Overhaul window.
- Redecoration works.
- Replace taps.
- Renew wash hand basin/bath.
- Replace light switch/socket outlet.
- Fencing repairs.
- Roofing repairs.
- Kitchen unit repairs.
- Plastering repairs.
- Wall tiling repairs.
- Guttering repairs.
- Glazing repairs.
- Replace bath.
- Replace storage heater.
Out of office hours
When requesting an emergency repair during out of office hours your telephone call to this office will be redirected to a call centre. The staff will talk to you about your repair request and determine whether or not it is a genuine emergency before contacting our contractors. Assuming your repair request is an emergency then you can expect a contractor to attend and make safe and secure within 6 hours. We will send you a works order showing the contractor and completion deadline within a day or two.
New homes defects procedure
Orwell strives to ensure that all its properties are built to a high standard by closely supervising the building programme from start to finish. However, faults can still arise and you as tenants of a new property will probably be the first to find them.
Therefore, we would like to inform you of the procedure for dealing with repairs to new properties.
All new properties are subject to what is termed the ‘defect liability period’. This means that any faults that develop are the responsibility of the building contractors to put right. Any defects will be identified in an inspection at two intervals:
- 12 months after the property was built – for defects in the building.
- 12 months after the property was built – for defects in heating/plumbing and electrical installations.
You can help in this matter by listing any repairs that need to be done by the contractors to hand in at the time of inspection.
If, in your opinion, any fault or repair is an emergency, it should be reported to the Repairs Hotline on 0345 60 100 30.
The right to compensation for failure to repair
Should the contractor fail to respond to the time limits set out in the works order and this is reported by you to Orwell, a second time limited period is allowed in which the contractor must commence the repair work. This second period is another 24 hours for emergencies, and repairs. If the contractor fails to undertake the repair requested in this second period, then you are entitled to claim compensation from Orwell of £10.00, plus £2.00 per day (up to a maximum of £50.00) for every day the repair remains outstanding, providing access has not been denied. However, any compensation may be deducted from any sums that you may owe to Orwell.
Compensation will only apply to integral parts of the property. Further claim forms are available from the Orwell office.