Maintaining or adapting your home

Grants to adapt or improve your home

Some people with chronic health conditions or disabilities find that their homes are no longer suitable for their needs, perhaps because they cannot get about the home, or because something about the home has a negative effect on their health. Sometimes you can overcome these problems by adapting your home. This can involve adding wheelchair ramps to doorways, installing stair lifts, or undertaking significant building works to make the layout of your home more suitable for you.

Of course all of this costs money but there may be financial support available to help towards the costs.

Disabled Facilities Grants
If you are suffering from a long-term condition, and have completed an assessment with a London Borough of Sutton occupational therapist, you may be entitled to receive a grant from your local housing department to cover the cost of any changes that need to be made to your home.

Eligibility

  • you must own the property or be a tenant and intend to live there for the next 5 years
  • any changes made must be deemed necessary and appropriate for your needs by the occupational therapist. These changes must be considered reasonable and must be possible for that particular property
  • you must have planning permission for any major adaptations to your home. If your request for changes is approved, your grant may cover the costs of surveyors or architects needed to gain planning permission

What the grant can be used for
The types of adaptation which might be completed using a grant include:

  • widening doors and installing ramps
  • providing or improving access to rooms and facilities - for example, by installing a stair lift or providing a downstairs bathroom
  • improving or providing a heating system which is suitable for your needs
  • adapting heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use
  • improving access to and movement around the home to enable you to care for another person who lives in the property, such as a child

An occupational therapist will look at your circumstances and can recommend the type of adaptation(s) needed.

Financial implications

The maximum grant you can receive for adaptations to your home is currently £30,000 (January 2015).

If the cost of the grant exceeds £5,000, the council will impose a charge on your property to recover the cost of the grant to a maximum of £10,000. This charge will be recovered if your property is disposed of, whether by sale, assignment, transfer or otherwise, within 10 years of the date on which the works subject to an application are completed to the satisfaction of the council. This charge will be registered as a local land charge and will be binding upon any person who is the owner of the dwelling or building.

If you own your home the grant is means-tested, so depending on how much money you have (your income or any savings), you may have to contribute towards the cost or pay the whole cost. You will not have to pay if you receive a means-test benefit, for example Guaranteed Pension Credit, Housing Benefit or Employment Support Allowance. The grant for people under 19 is not means-tested, so adaptations for children are free of charge

If you rent from a private landlord, you can also apply for a DFG which will be means-tested. Your landlord will need to give permission for the adaptations to be carried out. The occupational therapist who recommended that the work be done will liaise with your landlord.

If you rent your property from your local council or from a housing association then the occupational therapist who has recommended that the work be done will liaise with your landlord.

How to apply
To request an occupational therapist referral for assessment of your needs:

Help with the work
The London Borough of Sutton Home Improvement Agency, Staying Put, can assist with coordinating an application for a grant and project manage the works on your behalf once the occupational therapist has recommended that the works should be done.

Making private arrangements
If you are paying privately for major adaptations to be done to your home then Staying Put can assist you with planning and coordinating the work. For more detailed information, call 020 8409 7061 or email sue.bennett@sutton.gov.uk. For more information about using private contractors, see the page on maintaining or adapting your home.

Other information and advice
Gov.uk provides full information on the Disabled Facilities Grant.

Independent Age provides a guide called Adapting your home to stay independent which includes advice on how you might pay for such work.

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