Help with home improvements - frequently asked questions

I need repairs on my house. Can the Council help?

Yes. If you need repairs or improvements that will reduce the risk to your health and safety or bring your home up to a decent standard we may be able to you, if you are getting certain benefits or are on a low income. We will consider whether you can get a Home Appreciation Loan first, but if you cannot have one, you may be able to get a grant called Health and Safety Assistance.

I still owe a lot of money on my mortgage but need some urgent repairs. Can the Council help me?

Yes. If you meet the conditions for financial assistance we will look at if you can get a Home Appreciation Loan. Whether you can get a Home Appreciation Loan depends on how much equity you have in your home, which is the difference between the value of your home and any money that you owe, such as a mortgage or other loans. If you do not have enough equity we will then look at whether you can have a grant of up to £5,000. You do not need to repay this grant.

I don’t get a qualifying benefit. Can I still get help?

Yes, you might be able to get help if you have a low income. Generally, we consider you to be on a low income if you have a net income of less than £25,000 – net income is the money you get after you have paid any tax and National Insurance.

Will my savings be taken in to account?

Any savings that you have under £6,000 will not be taken into account in our financial assessment.

Does the Council still give grants to homeowners?

Yes we do, but only in certain circumstances. To get a grant you must either be getting certain benefits or be on a low income and need essential repairs or improvements. You must also not be able to get a commercial loan. We will look at whether you can get a Home Appreciation Loan first, and only if this is not possible, will we look at if you can have a grant.

I have had help from the Council before. Can I apply again?

We will not be able to help you if we have given any other assistance with repairs and improvements for the property that you are living in, in the last 10 years - this includes help given by group repair schemes. We do not, however, take any assistance with disabled adaptations into account.

If I get a Home Appreciation Loan will I have to make regular payments?

No. A Home Appreciation Loan is an equity release loan and is secured by a legal charge against your home. You will not need to pay your loan back until your home is sold or transferred to someone else, for instance because you have chosen to move out or because you have died.

How much will I end up paying back on my Home Appreciation Loan?

The amount that you will repay on your Home Appreciation Loan is based on the value of your home when it is sold and not how much the loan was for. There is a maximum cap on how much can be repaid, in case the value of your home has increased a lot.

If I get a Home Appreciation Loan will it affect how much my children will inherit?

Yes. If you have a Home Appreciation Loan this will need to be repaid when your house is sold or transferred after you die. This will reduce the amount that your family will inherit. However, there is a limit on how much equity in your property will be taken into account and you and your family need to think about how else you can pay for the repairs or improvements that you need now. Remember, as well, that if you carry out the repairs and improvements that you need, your home will probably sell at a higher price than if you leave it in its current condition.

If my wife and I have a Home Appreciation Loan and one of us dies, will our house have to be sold straight away?

No. If both your names are on the deeds (you own the property jointly) you will not need to sell your home until both of you die. If your home is just in one name and the registered owner dies first, we will normally allow the property to transfer once without the loan needing to be paid back.

Can I choose what repairs to carry out with my Home Appreciation Loan or Health and Safety Assistance?

No. The Council will assess what repairs or improvements are eligible for assistance and we will only pay the contractor for the work that we have agreed should be carried out. Also, if the cost of the repairs you need is more than the financial help we can give you we will expect you to prioritise the repairs that you need - this may well be the case with a Health and Safety Assistance grant. This means that the repairs that deal with the biggest risks to your health and safety must be done first. We will explain to you what order the repairs that you need, must be done in.

If I get a Home Appreciation Loan, do I have to sort the work out myself?

It depends on whether you chose to use the Agency Service. If you do not use the Agency Service you will need to get two estimates from contractors to carry out the work that we agree that you need. You will then have to make sure that the work is carried out on time, although we will sort out payment to your contractor once we are satisfied that the work is complete. If you choose to use the Agency Service though, we will sort out getting a contractor and supervise the work being carried out. There is a charge for using the Agency Service, which is 15% of the total cost of the work that you need, but this can be covered by the financial assistance that we give you.

Please note that you cannot use the Agency Service if you get a Health and Safety Assistance grant.

Can the Council recommend a contractor?

No, we do not provide an approved contractor list. If you do not use the Agency Service you will have to find reputable contractors yourself. If you use the Agency Service the work will be carried out by a contractor who we have already approved for carrying out this sort of work.

I live in Bradford, why is Sheffield Council involved in my Home Appreciation Loan?

A few years ago, the Home Appreciation Loan scheme covered all of Yorkshire and Sheffield Council agreed to deal with all the paperwork linked to setting up the loans. Even though it is now up to individual councils to decide whether they still offer this loan scheme, we have kept up this arrangement with Sheffield because they have the necessary skill and expertise to do this.

Why is the Council helping people with loans for home repairs and improvements. Do other councils do this?

The law says that councils must provide help to vulnerable homeowners and along with most other councils in the country, we think that providing this type of financial assistance with repairs and improvements is the most effective way to ensure that people in Bradford live in safe and decent homes.

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Housing Service
8th Floor
Margaret McMillan Tower
Princes Way

Phone : 01274 434520
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