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Housing standards, improvements, grants and loans

To follow any changes to this service, visit the Council Service Updates page.

Details of the local ‘handyman’ service, how to save money on fuel bills, Disabled Facilities Grants and other grants and loans to help you heat your home efficiently.

Housing standards and funding for home improvements

Everyone is entitled to live in a home that is warm, has modern facilities and is in a good state of repair.

Everyone is entitled to live in a home, which is warm, has modern facilities and is in a good state of repair.

There is a minimum standard that housing associations and registered social landlords have to meet, however, some landlords will want to carry out work to a higher standard than that defined by the Government.

This may include fitting double glazed windows, improving security or working to make the local environment better, if the money to do the work is available.

A decent home can be defined as one that:

  • Meets the current statutory minimum standard for housing;
  • Is in a reasonable state of repair;
  • Has reasonably modern facilities and services;
  • Provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort.

Further information has been laid down, by law, and is available in the Decent Homes Standard document.

An energy performance certificate (EPC) will show how easy your property is to heat and give you an indication of the annual heating costs. The certificate also includes an environmental C02 rating that indicates your home’s impact on the environment in terms of carbon dioxide emissions as well as the potential for improvement.

Any properties now being advertised for rent, or if your home is put on the market for sale, must have an energy performance certificate (EPC). This must be available for a tenant and prospective tenants or prospective buyers to see.

An EPC is required by law when a building is built, sold or put up for rent. If you are a landlord or homeowner and need to provide an EPC, you’ll need to contact an accredited domestic energy assessor. They will carry out the assessment and produce the certificate.

Further information regarding the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) are available on the government website.

Saving energy

Whether you’re a landlord, tenant or homeowner there are many ways of saving energy and making your home more energy efficient.

Landlords energy saving allowance

If you are a landlord and make energy saving improvements to your property you could reduce the tax you pay. You can do this by claiming the Landlord Energy Saving Allowance (LESA).

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is a risk based evaluation tool to help us identify and consider the effect of any hazards in a property.

There are 29 hazards that can be identified by the system, including excess cold, fire hazards and falls on the stairs. It is based on the principle that any residential premises should provide a safe and healthy environment for any potential occupier or visitor.

The system applies to all dwellings including:

  • Owner occupied
  • Privately rented
  • Housing association

Councils have a duty to keep the housing conditions in privately owned property under review, together with a duty to inspect a property to determine if any health and safety hazards exist.

Hazards are rated according to how likely they are to cause harm and how serious the outcome could be. All properties have hazards like stairs and electricity that need to be controlled to minimise the risk to health and safety to a reasonable degree.

Hazard categories

A hazard is assessed according to its likely impact on the most vulnerable group like young children or elderly people. This gives it a score that indicates the effect it could have on these people. There are two hazard categories:

Category 1

A hazard will be rated as ‘category 1’ if the score is 1000. Category 1 hazards pose the most risk. For example, homes with a low energy performance (F or G rated homes) with inadequate heating or insulation. Where we find category 1 hazards, the council has a duty to take enforcement action to ensure the hazard is reduced.

Category 2

A hazard will be rated as ‘category 2’ if the score is less than 1000. Although category 2 hazards pose a lower risk, there is sometimes a strong case for controlling them further to make the home environment safer and more healthy.

Save money and time on fuel bills

North Lincolnshire Council’s successful collective switching scheme offers you a chance to find a better deal and keep fuel bills as low as possible. The scheme has been running since August 2013 and has so far saved local households collectively over £100,000 on fuel bills, with average savings of over £250 per household.

Many residents have highlighted the great savings to be made and how simple the switching process is. Collective switching enables households to sign up to a scheme that allows an intermediary to enter an auction with energy companies on their behalf, to secure a discounted energy price.

Working with iChoosr, the UK’s leading provider of collective switching, residents have until Monday 18 May 2020 to register for the latest round online.

The timetable for registering your interest is:

Spring Auction 2020

  • Launch from: Tuesday 31 March 2020
  • Auction: Tuesday 19 May 2020
  • Offers out from: Monday 1 June 2020
  • Closure: Tuesday 30 June 2020 (last date to accept offer)

For further information and to register please visit the Big Community Switch website.

To request a paper form to be sent out to you or for more information about the scheme, please contact North Lincolnshire Council, Home Assistance Team on housing@northlincs.gov.uk. The deadline for returning paper forms is  Friday 15 May 2020.

Contact

Affordable Warmth Officer

housing@northlincs.gov.uk

Disabled Facilities Grant

We provide grants of up to £30,000 if you are disabled and need to make changes to your home. For more details on eligibility, please visit the Disabled Facilities Grant page on Gov.uk. Then please contact us at housing@northlincs.gov.uk or call 01724 297000 to discuss your individual circumstances and to apply.

Home Appreciation loans

We offer a loan with no monthly repayments to help people with the cost of works that affect their health or safety. We want to ensure that homes are safe, warm and weather-proof for those who are most vulnerable.

To qualify for a loan you must:

  • be a homeowner and occupy the property throughout the loan period.
  • be 60 or over or in receipt of one of the following benefits:
    • Income Support
    • Working or Child Tax Credit (income less than £16,040)
    • Income-based Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
    • Employment Support Allowance (ESA) with a disability element
    • Have sufficient equity in the property
    • Have a low income and/or unable to access a commercial loan
Loan amount

The minimum amount is £2,000 and the maximum loan amount is £10,000. There is a limited budget each year for this assistance and enquiries will be dealt with in date order.

Repayment

The Home Appreciation Loan is not a grant.  It is an equity release loan but with no monthly payments to make.  You only have to repay the loan when you no longer own your home, for example if you sell it.

It allows you to carry out the necessary work to your home without having to make regular repayments like a normal loan would do.

When it comes to repaying your loan, the amount you’ll repay is based on how much your property has changed in value when you sell it, or no longer own it.

Loans for minor repairs

The Home Cheque Loan is a council-backed loan operated in partnership with the Northern Lincolnshire Credit Union. For more information, visit the Northern Lincolnshire Credit Union website.

There is funding available to support the cost of fitting first time gas central heating systems in homes across North Lincolnshire.

Qualifying homeowners or private renting tenants who currently rely on storage heaters, room heaters or solid fuel fires, could upgrade their heating facilities for little or no cost.

Through the scheme, eligible residents can connect their homes to the mains gas network and get an A-rated central heating system installed with condensing combination boiler and thermostatic controls.

If you live in the North Lincolnshire and meet the following criteria, you could be eligible for the funding:

Claim one or more of the following state benefits:

  • Pension guarantee credit
  • Income based job seekers allowance
  • Income support
  • Income based employment & support allowance
  • Child tax or working tax credit*
  • Universal credit*

*Income thresholds apply

Or

  • Have a low household income and are living in a property with a poor energy efficiency rating (band E, F or G), or you have a health condition made worse by living in a cold home.

Please note that if you rent your property, then your landlord may also be required to contribute towards the cost of the installation.

If you think you may qualify, contact YES Energy Solutions.

We work closely with energy companies, installers and customers to help fuel-poor households access the Help to Heat – flexible eligibility scheme (also known as ECO).

The Statement of Intent [PDF, 359KB] contains eligibility criteria but does not necessarily guarantee that any individual household will benefit from energy saving improvements; the final decision on funding rests with energy suppliers and will depend on:

  • the survey carried out and installation costs calculated.
  • the energy savings that can be achieved for a property.
  • if suppliers have achieved their ECO targets or require further measures to meet their ECO targets (this will affect the amount of funding available through the scheme).

You can also check out the Steps to Affordable Warmth video for hints and tips on how to afford to stay warm and healthy at home.

Enquire about home assistance to find out if your household is eligible.

We work with the Humber and Wolds Rural Community Council to offer an oil bulk buying scheme. For further information or to join visit Humber and Wolds Rural Community Council.

A cold home is one that cannot be economically maintained at temperatures of 18⁰C to 21⁰C.  Even when it is -1⁰C outside, the heating system should be capable of maintaining these temperatures inside the home.

Homes that have an F or G rating for energy performance cannot be economically maintained at between 18 and 21⁰C.

Why it matters

People who live in cold homes are at a higher risk of becoming ill. If a property does not have adequate heating it can be danger to health of all the people who live there. Older residents are the most at risk if they cannot keep their homes warm.

If a household has to spend more than 10 per cent of their income on heating they are classed as being in fuel poverty. If you make your home more energy efficient it will cost you less to heat it, meaning you can keep warm and save money.

What can I do?

Heating

Set the temperature of your heating to at least 18⁰C to keep your home warm.

Draughts

Gaps around doors, windows, loft hatches, fittings and pipework are common sources of draughts. Sealing up the gaps will stop heat escaping your home, making it more affordable to keep warm.

Insulation

Up to a third of heating in your home is lost through uninsulated walls. Insulating walls and lofts will save you money; it won’t cost as much to heat your home if you can keep the warmth in.

If you rent your home and think it is too cold you can ask your landlord to make improvements. If they refuse you can contact us for advice. Private tenants and homeowners may be able to get a grant for insulation and possibly heating improvements. Insulating your home will make it cheaper to keep warm.

If you are a landlord you should aim to achieve an energy efficiency rating of D (the average) or higher for your rented properties and to provide an affordable heating system that is capable of achieving temperatures of between 18⁰C and 21⁰C. Systems must be well maintained and tenants should be shown how to use them effectively.

Dampness in the home can be a major problem. It can cause mould on walls and furniture and make timber window frames and floors rot. It can encourage the growth of house dust mites and increase the risk of respiratory illness.

Causes of dampness

Before you can treat damp and mould in your home you will need to find out what is causing it. Dampness can be caused by:

  • Condensation – this is the most common cause of damp homes.
  • Penetrating damp – this is when rainwater gets in due to leaks in pipes, roofs, walls and windows.
  • Rising damp – this is when moisture enters from the ground through the walls and floor.

If you have penetrating or rising damp you may need to employ a contractor to carry out works.

If you rent your property, contact your landlord about damp problems. They will need to find out what the problem is and arrange to get it fixed. If they refuse to carry out works you can contact us for advice.

If the dampness is not caused by penetrating or rising damp then it is most probably due to condensation.

How does condensation cause mould growth?

There is always moisture in the air, even if you cannot see it. When the air in our homes is saturated and cannot hold any more moisture then it drops that moisture.

The amount of moisture the air can hold depends on how hot or cold it is. Warmer air can hold more moisture and colder air can hold less moisture.

When warm, moist air comes into contact with cold surfaces it can no longer hold all of the moisture and tiny drops of water appear. This is condensation. It appears on cold surfaces like walls, windows and places where there is little movement of air.

What can I do?

If you reduce the amount of condensation in your home you can prevent dampness.

Produce less moisture

Following some simple tips will greatly reduce the amount of excess moisture in your home.  You should cover pans in the kitchen and use and extractor fan if you have one.  Try to dry washing outside, or put it in the bathroom with the door closed and keep a fan on or window open.

Ventilate to remove moisture

If you remove the moisture from your home it will have less chance to condense. If you have trickle vents on your windows you should keep them open or keep a small window ajar when someone is in the room.

You should ventilate kitchens and bathrooms to remove excess moisture.

Insulate, draught proof and heat your home

If you keep your home warm then you will get less condensation. If you insulate and draught proof it will also save you money on your heating bills. You may be able to get a grant to insulate your home.

There are a number of reasons why properties become empty. They may be in the process of being sold, let, refurbished or inherited.

However, empty homes tend to attract crime and anti-social behaviour. They are at a greater risk of arson attacks and vandalism. This can reduce the value of nearby properties and create a cause for concern for local residents.

The council works to bring empty homes back into use because it:

  • provides a source of housing for those in need, such as homeless families
  • reduces the need to develop on greenfield land by re-using existing sites
  • contributes to the regeneration of the community
  • helps reduce levels of crime, vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

The council is working to reduce the number of empty properties by:

  • responding to enquiries and complaints about empty properties from local residents
    .providing advice and assistance for owners of empty properties who want to return them to use.

If you are the owner of an empty property, the council can offer free independent advice on ways of bringing it back into use. These areas include:

  • letting the property – by using a managing agent or by becoming a private landlord and letting the property yourself
  • selling the property – either through an estate agent, at auction or by advertising it yourself
  • refurbishing the property for you or family members to live in, or to make the property suitable for letting.

If an empty property is bothering you, please report it:

North Lincolnshire council is required by the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 to prepare a report setting out measures leading to significant improvements in the energy efficiency of residential accommodation in this area.

Improving the energy efficiency of residential accommodation is important, both because of the environmental impact of energy use in the domestic sector (estimated to be responsible for 25 per cent of emissions of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide) and because of the desirability of ensuring that every household has access to affordable warmth.

Our home energy conservation strategy aims to improve domestic energy efficiency by 30 per cent within 10 years, in particular to:

  • Develop information collection systems to not only monitor progress towards achieving energy efficiency improvements but also to identify priority areas for targeting improvements.
  • Provide advice and guidance on energy efficiency and energy conservation to all householders.
  • Identify and seek to secure funding from any available source to promote energy efficiency and provide energy efficiency measures.
  • Continue and further encourage the development of partnerships, with local statutory and voluntary organisations who have an interest in health and housing, welfare and energy efficiency.
  • Promote and facilitate the uptake of New Home Energy Efficiency Scheme and other energy efficiency schemes through effective promotion and networking.
  • Seek to ensure that members of staff and others in the local community can undertake appropriate training for both giving advice and carrying out energy surveys for properties.
  • Develop links with educational bodies to promote energy efficiency as an integral part of the curriculum.
  • Seek to establish better communication with statutory and other bodies to respond to and where appropriate, influence energy efficiency policy.
  • Provide grants to improve the energy efficiency of the vulnerable households in other sectors of housing.

Often referred to as the “handyman service”, the handyperson scheme can carry out the following to any property in North Lincolnshire:

  • minor repairs to your property
  • small works such as fitting curtain rails, putting up shelves
  • improvements to access, such as adding ramps for scooters or additional steps
  • fitting additional hand rails

In addition, if you been the victim of burglary, concerned about your home security, or you are worried about the threat of burglary in your area, we may be able to help you by fitting some or all of the following items:

  • window locks
  • upgraded door locks or additional locks
  • security bolts
  • door chains
  • door viewers or peep holes
  • kick stops

The scheme is partly funded by North Lincolnshire Council, Humberside Police, social services and several other organisations, therefore services can be provided at a very competitive price. A member of the handyperson service will visit to give you a free quote for the work required. For further information please email handyperson@northlincs.gov.uk.

Contact

Home Assistance Team:

housing@northlincs.gov.uk

Customer Contact Centre

01724 297000

Adults Occupational Therapy Services:

Scunthorpe West and the Isle of Axholme: 03033 306802

Scunthorpe South: 03033 306804 

East Network (Broughton to Killingholme)  03033 306748

Adaptations for children

If you are enquiring about adaptations for a child/young person with disabilities, anywhere in North Lincolnshire, you must contact:  01724 296500 and choose option 2.