If the top up amount is below 1000 then we will make a grant if it is above this amount then you will need to apply for an Equity Release Loan.

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2 INTRODUCTION This document summarises the various policies that make up the Community Housing Strategy. This supports the Council s Housing Strategy and the Corporate Objectives set out in the Council s Corporate Plan. DIFFERENT TYPES OF LOAN AND GRANTS AVAILABLE Although the government believes that home owners should be responsible for maintaining their own property, it accepts that some people particularly the elderly and vulnerable do not have the money or resources to keep their homes in good repair. Local councils therefore have an important role to play in providing help. In July 2002, the government introduced sweeping changes that give councils the flexibility to provide financial assistance in ways that best suit local circumstances. This summary provides a brief outline of the loans and grants available from South Holland District Council under its Decent Homes Assistance Policy. Aiming to Help People The Council wants to: Improve the condition of existing housing Make better use of empty properties These aims are reflected in the policy, which replaces the old grant system with customer friendly loans supported by the limited use of grants. 1. EQUITY SHARE LOANS Giving You a Fair Deal The Council believes its loan packages should be affordable, attractive and easy to understand, and should not carry the threat of repossession. Equity share, where the Council benefits from any increase in property values but also share the risk with the owner if house prices drop. Because there is only a limited budget for providing loans the Council asks applicants to take part in a Test of Financial Resources(means test) to ensure help is given to the most needy. The Council operates a waiting list for potential applicants if the budget becomes oversubscribed. An equity share loan is most suited to older home owners with a substantial equity in their property, although it is available to homeowners with a substantial equity to cover the cost of repair or improvement work needed. It is not available to tenants or landlords. To be eligible, applicants must:

3 Have lived in and owned the property for at least 1 year Undertake a means test to show they are unable to fund the work themselves Provide a valid house insurance certificate in their name, showing realistic rebuilding costs In addition: The minimum loan is 1,000 Any valid professional fees (eg Building Regulation approval, structural engineers report, electricians report) can be included in the loan The equity share scheme involves the Council providing a loan for agreed repairs and improvements. The Council takes a percentage share in the value of the property when the loan is made, and receives the same percentage of the property value when the loan is settled. If the value of the property goes up the Council makes a profit. If the value drops, the Council loses money. The homeowner can settle the loan whenever they choose, or when the property is next sold. Example: A property valued at 100,000 and needs 10,000 worth of repairs. The Council registers a 10% share (the equivalent of 10,000) in the value of the house. Six years later, the house is sold for 150,000. The Council receives 10% of the sale value, which is 15,000. This allows the Council to make a profit on the loan without penalising the 2. GRANTS Works costing less than The minimum amount of loan is However, should the proposed works come to less than this amount a grant will be made. This will registered on the Local Land Charges and will be repayable if you move or dispose of the property within five years. Warm Front Top Ups If the top up amount is below 1000 then we will make a grant if it is above this amount then you will need to apply for an Equity Release Loan. Handyperson Service This service is provided by South Holland District Council in partnership with the Lincolnshire Home Improvement Agency. If you are over 60 and in a means tested or disability benefit or: Under 60 and disabled and on a means tested benefit The Handyperson Service can provide up to 16 hours on a single task or a series of linked tasks up to a cost of 250. An emergency service is not provided.

4 3. DISABLED FACILITES GRANTS The Council will award mandatory disabled facilities grants according to the current governing legislation and guidance issued by central government which determines, amongst other things, the type of work that can be funded, the maximum contribution that may be made, and the test of financial resources that must be made. Discretionary Disabled Facilities Grants. The council will not consider any discretionary grant assistance applications. Don t fall into the right category? If you fall outside current policy but feel you should be eligible for assistance, you can still ask the Council to consider your position by writing to: Community Housing Community & Neighbourhood Services South Holland District Council Priory Road Spalding PE11 2XE EMPTY HOMES What is an empty property? There is no recognised definition of empty property and they are not always easy to identify. Empty properties can take on a number of forms: property previously in a residential use, such as a flat or house flats above shops which are not in use possibly as there is no separate access to the upper levels of the shop, or because the lease arrangements for the buildings are not favourable to renting the accommodation out unused and hard to let office space, where the potential of developing or renting the space as residential has not been considered. We aim to: reduce the number of long term empty homes (residential properties), and increase housing supply in South Holland by bringing them back into use increase the available homes in South Holland by working to bring other empty properties (unused offices and shops) into use as residential accommodation minimise the number of properties becoming long term empty (six months plus) by identifying them early and working with owners as soon as possible provide a contact point and resource for owners of empty properties work in partnership with other agencies to tackle the problem of empty properties Please see Empty Homes Policy for full details.

5 Houses in Multiple Occupation Our policy for Houses in Multiple Occupation is:- To actively seek to identify properties occupied by more than one household To take action as is necessary to bring them up to a satisfactory standard with regard to fire safety, amenity provision, repair and management. To inspect them at intervals according to their risk assessment category to ensure continued compliance with adopted standards. To inform tenants and landlords of the requirements and their responsibilities. Depending on the particular circumstances Community & Neighbourhood Services will use a variety of means, such as education, advice, guidance, warning letters and legal notices to make sure that individuals, organisations and businesses meet their responsibilities. Where their are serious breaches of legislation or risks to health, safety or the environment, activities may be prohibited, licences revoked, formal cautions issued, legal notices served, direct action taken or prosecutions started. Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licensing and Health and Safety Rating System HMO Licensing The aim of HMO licensing is to ensure the higher risk properties in the private rental market meet the legal standards and are properly managed. A HMO is a building occupied by more than one household and includes houses containing bedsits, hostels and shared houses. The Housing Act 2004 includes a new definition of households, which is families, including single persons and cohabiting couples (whether or not of opposite sex). This has clarified past confusions and means that shared houses will always be HMOs. South Holland has approximately 192 HMOs, and we anticipate that 10% of these will need to be licensed. HMOs of three or more storeys with five or more occupants in two or more households will need to be licensed but social housing and HMOs owned by the police, health authorities, universities and some other listed organisations are exempt, as are some buildings converted into flats. Licences will be granted where the house is reasonably suitable for occupation as a HMO, the management arrangements are satisfactory and the licensee and manager are fit and proper persons. The applicant must be the most appropriate person to hold the licence. A member of the Community and Neighbourhood Services may visit before licensing a HMO to assess compliance with the licensing requirements and the number of people the HMO should be licensed for. Housing Health and Safety Rating System The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is a risk assessment of the effect of housing conditions on the health of occupiers. It involves the assessment of 29 potential hazards and scoring of their severity to decide whether improvements are needed. If more serious Category 1 hazards are found the council has a duty to require the owner to remedy the defect. If less serious Category 2 hazards are found, the council has discretionary power to require action. The enforcement regime involves a set of notices to deal with these HHSRS hazards requiring improvement, prohibition of the use of the dwelling or demolition.

6 When a hazard is identified, we must decide the most practical course of action. There is no legal requirement for a prior warning notice to be served, so the council will ensure that the landlord and tenant(s) have the opportunity to discuss the council s proposed action before a notice is served. An improvement notice will be the most practical remedy for most hazards; repair or renewal is generally cost-effective. However, prohibition notices may be required on part or all of a dwelling, for example, where there is inadequate natural lighting or there is no fire escape from the top floor. The council can serve suspended improvement notices, these can be used in circumstances where obtaining other consents will cause delay an example would be where planning permission is being applied for. Please see HMO Licensing and HHSRS Policy and HMO procedure for full details. Caravan Site Licensing Depending on the particular circumstances Community & Neighbourhood Services will use a variety of means, such as education, advice, guidance, warning letters and legal notices to make sure that individuals, organisations and businesses meet their responsibilities. Where there are serious breaches of legislation or risks to health, safety or the environment, activities may be prohibited, licences revoked, formal cautions issued, legal notices served, direct action taken or prosecutions started. Land cannot be used as a caravan site without a current site licence unless it is an exemption as listed under Schedule 1 of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act If a site is exempted, it will not be protected by either the Caravan Sites Act 1968 or the Mobile Homes Act It is the responsibility of the site owner (or site leaseholder) to make an application to the Council for a licence. The site licence will impose conditions on the site. There are 4 standard sets of general conditions for differing types of sites and although these will form the basis of any conditions each site will be examined individually. The site licence will be issued in writing. The licence will be issued for an indefinite period of time or for as long as the period given for planning permission. Please see Caravan Licensing Procedure for full details. To find out more about the help on offer or advice please contact South Holland District Council s Community Housing Team on Full copies of the policy are also available on request and on our website

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