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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Right to repair and self help schemes

The Right to Repair Scheme was set up to make sure that Housing Executive tenants get emergency and urgent repairs carried out within an acceptable timeframe.

Using the Right to Repair scheme

When you report a repair to the Housing Executive you should be told whether it is

  • an Emergency Repair
  • an Urgent Repair or
  • a Routine Repair.

If your repair is classed as Emergency or Urgent, the Right to Repair Scheme applies.  The Housing Executive has 24 hours to deal with Emergency Repairs and 4 days to sort out Urgent Repairs.  You should be told the name of the contractor who will be carrying out the repair and given a deadline for when the work should be completed.

If your repair isn’t managed within this time, you should contact the Housing Executive to tell them.  The Housing Executive will appoint another contractor and set a new deadline: a further 24 hours for an Emergency Repair and a further 4 days for an Urgent Repair.

Financial compensation under Right to Repair

If the problem hasn’t been dealt with by this new deadline you could be given compensation.  You will get £10 for the first day over the timeframe and a further £2 each day until the repair has been done.  The maximum amount of compensation you can get is £50. If you owe the Housing Executive money, either unpaid rent or an overpayment of Housing Benefit your compensation may be used to reduce the amount you owe.

Exceptions from Right to Repair

You won’t always be compensated if the Housing Executive failed to stick to its deadline.  The Right to Repair won’t apply if

  • your repair is a routine repair
  • you’ve told the Housing Executive that you don’t want the repair carried out
  • you didn’t provide reasonable access details for the contractor
  • you didn’t give the contractor reasonable opportunities to inspect the property
  • your repair isn’t to a dwelling house or
  • there have been genuine difficulties outside of the control of the Housing Executive or the contractor which have made it impossible to complete the work.

Self help scheme

Housing Executive tenants can arrange some repairs privately then claim the money back from the Housing Executive using the Self Help Scheme.  You’ll need to have the Housing Executive’s permission to use this scheme and you can only use it for certain types of repairs.

List of repairs for self help

You can only use the self help scheme for routine repairs that would normally be the Housing Executive’s responsibility.  Some of the eligible repairs include:

  • replacing slates
  • repairing gutters
  • replacing bathroom doors and frames
  • adding a double drainer sink unit
  • installing a replacement radiator
  • replacing front gates
  • repairing fences
  • replacing internal doors
  • replacing front doors.

You can also use the scheme for minor electrical or plumbing repairs but these have to be carried out by a qualified electrician or plumber.  The Housing Executive will probably ask for proof of the contractor’s qualifications before paying out any money. 

How to use the scheme

Ask the Housing Executive for permission to use the scheme.  The Housing Executive should send one of its own maintenance officers out to your home.  This officer will inspect to see if the repair is necessary and if it qualifies under the self help scheme.  This inspection should happen within 5 days of you asking to use the scheme.

If the Housing Executive allows you to use the scheme, it will send you an authorisation form which you’ll have to sign and return.  This form should also confirm how much the repair is likely to cost and the maximum amount of money you’ll be entitled to under the Self Help scheme.

The maximum repair cost that the Housing Executive will cover under the Self Help Scheme is £200. If the repair costs more than the Housing Executive is willing to cover, you’ll have to make up the difference yourself. 

Finding a contractor

You’ll have to find your own contractor and organise a time that they can do the repair.  If it’s an electrical or plumbing repair, make sure the person you hire has the relevant qualifications.  If they can’t produce these qualifications, the Housing Executive may refuse to pay you.  If you pay the contractor directly, make sure that you get a receipt.

The Housing Executive will inspect the work after it’s been done to make sure it’s up to standard.  You will then be compensated.  If you owe the Housing Executive money, like rent arrears or overpayments of housing benefit, the Housing Executive may use your Self Help money to reduce this debt.

The Housing Executive can pay the contractor directly if you can’t afford to do it.  Ask your district office about setting up a mandated payment if you want to do this.