You may have heard about the range of grants and schemes that are available for properties, for example home insulation and boilers/heaters, but is there any financial assistance to help with the costs of damp proofing? Are free damp proofing grants available?
Both these questions are fair enough. After all, if help is available to help pay for things such as loft insulation, you would certainly think it might be available for damp issues in the home too. Loft insulation is very sensible to have in the home, of course. It reduces heating bills and is a highly cost-effective way of saving energy. As heat rises as much as 25% of all heat generated in a home will effectively be lost through the roof in a home that is uninsulated. But, damp can make a house feel considerably colder. Extremely damp conditions can cause health problems too, being especially troubling for people with respiratory conditions and, of course, damp over time can cause serious structural damage to a property.
Well, despite all this, the answer to the question is unfortunately the one you didn’t want to hear. No! Free damp proof grants are not something that are currently available.
Whilst there are certain grants that you could use for damp work, in reality it is extremely unlikely.
A Renovation Grant is your best chance of receiving a free damp proofing grant. However, the main issue, making it very difficult to obtain a grant, is the current economic climate. As everybody is well aware, since the financial crash and recession at the end of the last decade public spending has been severely cut back by the government. This has affected virtually every area of public services and grants that were once available, and grants for renovations have not escaped the cuts. Their availability has been severely reduced and not all local authorities are now in a position to offer them, even if a homeowner or landlord applying for a grant does actually meet the usual eligibility criteria.
A Renovation Grant is only available in what are described as ‘exceptional circumstances’. This is defined as where there is an imminent threat or significant risk to the occupier’s safety. They are only available at the discretion of the local authority and they are also means-tested. The more money you earn, the less the grant will be.
The maximum grant available is £20,000 for tenants or owner-occupiers. Landlords can only claim for a grant of between £10,000 and £15,000 – and further conditions are in place regarding what the landlord’s plans are for letting the property.
You are only eligible to apply for a grant if the property is over ten years old. If you are an owner-occupier, you need to have been living in the property for a period of at least three years before making a grant application.
Getting a Renovation Grant
In theory, renovation grants are available for any work that is required to bring a property to the Decent Homes Standard, the government’s statutory minimum quality of housing standard. This might include roofing, windows, improving heating and damp proofing. If you make an application for a grant, you will need to include two itemised estimates for the work to be carried out alongside your standard application.
For landlords, the rules for grant applications are even more complicated and strict. There are many local authorities that feel landlords shouldn’t have the same access to grants as owner-occupiers or tenants. However, in some areas where empty properties are being renovated, or in cases of HMO conversions, local authorities may look on applications more favourably.
How to apply
Being realistic, it is very difficult to obtain free damp proofing grants nowadays. Individual local authorities will have their own specific application criteria and you should contact your local authority directly. Another option is to contact Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs).These are not-for-profit organisations run by charities and housing associations. They can provide help for homeowners, tenants, the elderly, disabled and those on low incomes with the costs of home repairs, including damp proofing.