Living in unsuitable housing

If you are living in unsuitable accommodation the council may have duties to help you find somewhere else to live. Your accommodation may be unsuitable if it is overcrowded, in poor condition or is affecting your health or the health of someone you live with.

In many cases it may be better to try to resolve the problems so that you can stay where you are. This section gives information about what you can do if your accommodation isn’t suitable.
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Could your home be adapted?

If your home can be adapted or improved you may want to stay there, especially if you like where you live and don’t want to move. This is often the case with older home owners. Both older and disabled home owners and tenants may be able to apply for a grant to provide adaptations. They can apply to:

bullet  The council’s housing department
bullet  The council’s social services department
bullet  A home improvement agency

These could include things to help you:

bullet  Climb stairs
bullet  Get around the home
bullet  Get in and out of the bath
bullet  In the kitchen
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 Can you get care at home?

If you need help with daily tasks such as washing, cooking and cleaning, social services may have a legal responsibility to provide home care for you. If you are an older person or disabled you should contact your local social services department and ask them to carry out an assessment.

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Can your home be repaired?

If you think your home is unsuitable because it needs repairing, there may be action you can take to get the repairs done. This is the case whether you are a home owner or a tenant.

Council, housing association and private landlords must keep properties in good repair. Tenants can take action against their landlord to make them carry out repairs. Home owners may be able to apply to the council for a grant to carry out essential repairs and improvements.

If the condition of your home is so bad that it is affecting your health (for example because of serious damp, condensation or excessive noise) the council may be able to act against the owner. The council can:

bullet  Force the owner to carry out the repairs
bullet  Do the repairs itself and claim the cost back from the owner
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 Was the unsuitable home provided by the council?

If the council has housed you in unsuitable temporary accommodation (for example, when you applied as homeless), you may be able to take action. However, you should get advice first. Challenging the suitability of accommodation provided by the council can be very difficult.
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Would it be better to move?

Moving might be an option if:

bullet  You can’t improve or adapt your home
bullet  The conditions in your home are so bad that they are affecting your health or the health of someone you live with
your home is severely overcrowded

If you are a council or housing association tenant, you can ask to transfer to another property. Private tenants can apply to the council’s waiting lists (also called the ‘housing register’) for another home. If you have somewhere to live but it is not suitable, you may be able to get help from the council as a homeless person in certain circumstances. This is particularly the case if the condition of your home means that it is not reasonable for you to live there.

Older or disabled people who can no longer manage in their own home may benefit from housing with extra support, such as sheltered housing. Councils, housing associations and private companies provide this.

Whether you are a home owner or a tenant you should get advice about your situation from Shelter Cymru or Citizens Advice bureau. They will be able to go through your housing options with you and tell you what is the most appropriate course of action.

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Page last updated: March 13, 2013