Is your home ‘decent’?
It has been well established that poor housing conditions can have a detrimental effect on our physical and mental health as well as the environment around us and our general well being.
The Government set a standard which required all Housing Association homes to be made ‘decent’ by 2010. It also aimed to improve the living conditions of vulnerable people (such as those on benefits, the elderly or those with children) who rent through the private sector, or who own their own homes.
So exactly what is a ‘decent home’?
The Government defines a decent home as a home which meets the following criteria:
- It meets the current legal standards for housing
- It is in a reasonable state of repair;
- It has reasonably modern facilities and services; and
- It provides a reasonable degree of warmth to the occupants.
To provide further clarification on these points, a home is decent if it is free from any significant hazards to the health and safety of the occupants or potential visitors, as outlined in the Housing Act 2004.
A home is in a reasonable state of repair unless one or more of the integral building components (such as the roof or walls) are old and because of their condition require replacement or major repair.
A home has reasonably modern facilities and services if it has:
- A kitchen which is 20 years old or less;
- A kitchen with adequate space and layout;
- A bathroom which is 30 years old or less;
- An appropriately located bathroom and WC;
- Adequate external noise insulation (where noise is a problem); and
- Adequate size and layout of common entrance areas for blocks of flats.
A home provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort if it has an efficient form of heating system in place (such as gas or oil heating, electric storage heaters, warm air heaters etc) and an effective level of insulation (cavity wall or loft).
If a dwelling does not meet the criteria above, then it would fail to meet the decent homes standard.
How can we help?
The Housing Standards Team at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council can help in the drive to make homes decent. We can offer advice and encouragement to homeowners to carry out works to bring their properties up to standard, and make their homes decent. Grants are available for property owners on low incomes or income related benefits, for property repairs or improvements and reducing significant hazards in the home.
Under the Housing Act 2004, the Team also investigates complaints about poor housing conditions, and can take enforcement action against landlords or owners where there is a significant hazard, with a combination of advice, assistance and enforcement, the Housing Standards Team can work towards making homes decent across the borough.
If you would like further advice or information on any aspect of this article, please contact the Housing Standards Team on (01256) 845331, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.