Responsibility for upkeep
As an owner of a property, whether you occupy it or rent it out, you will have the responsibility for keeping the property in good order. The building needs to be maintained in a good state of repair in order to ensure safety of the occupiers and any visitors or members of the public passing by.
Carrying out repairs
Carrying out improvements and repairs to your home can be a daunting task. For anything but the most minor of improvements it is always worth considering getting an expert in. This could be an expert in a specific field, for example a registered engineer for a heating installation or an experienced builder for renovation work. Alternatively you could employ the services of an architect or agent, who will plan and manage the work in consultation with you. This is particularly useful for larger tasks such as loft conversions or extensions.
Many elements of work will require compliance with Building Regulations or Planning requirements. Further information can be found on these by looking at the relevant pages. An architect or agent will be able to advise you on the regulations and can make any necessary applications on your behalf.
What happens if the property falls into disrepair?
The Local Authority have a duty, under the Housing Act 2004, to review housing stock in the county and ensure hazards to occupiers and visitors are minimised. We do this by visiting a property and carrying out a Housing Health and Safety Rating System survey which identifies any potential hazards and categorises them according to risk of harm.
If there are any high risks, (category 1 hazards) then the Local Authority will take appropriate steps to minimise the hazard. Initially this will be through discussion with the owner but it can involve legally binding action which can force a homeowner to take action. Occasionally the Local Authority can step in to take action themselves and charge the owner or prohibit its use.
Assistance with applying for grants or loans and getting repair work done
Any financial assistance offered through the Local Authority by way of grant or loan can be accessed via the Housing Improvement Agency. The Housing Improvement Agency is an in-house agency with a full technical expertise and offers a full design and management service. They can help you to fill in application forms, measure up buildings, provide detailed plans and schedules of work and appoint and manage contractors.