Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) has updated its policies for improving private homes to make them suitable for the area’s residents.

Following the adoption of the private sector housing renewal policy by the council, TVBC is now able to take more measures to improve and regulate homes across the area. It can now provide specific grants to allow homes to be made more suitable for those with dementia and other disabilities, as well as banning individuals from being landlords if they have a history of relevant offences.

The plans were put to TVBC’s cabinet and passed by the body.

Councillors met at TVBC’s cabinet meeting on Wednesday, May 27, to discuss an update to the plans. The council adopted its last policy for private housing in 2005, with new laws and changes in demand meaning that a new policy was needed.

There had been an update to financial assistance packages in 2016, but the rest of the policy was over 15 years old.

Cllr Philip Bundy, housing and environmental health portfolio holder, told the cabinet: “All these priorities identified in the council’s adopted strategy improve access to private sector housing and to improve the quality of the existing private sector housing in the borough, and this strategy gives advice on how the council sues resources to improve private housing stock in the borough.

“It includes proposals to increase the maximum funding limit as well as the introduction of new grants and loans using existing resources. This is largely to make better use of the better care fund but also reflects the increase in cost of adaptation works since the financial packages were last updated.

“Only around 60 per cent of the allocation of those funds in the last few years so we need to utilise more effectively to maximise the outcomes it creates for our customers.”

Among the changes that have been introduced is new guidance around the buying of mobile homes, and the checks needed to be carried out, and the introduction of penalties and banning orders for housing offences.

Banning orders allow the council to prevent individuals who have committed “serious offences relevant to their position as a private landlord” to be prevented from leasing property, in addition to further action.

Changes to the Better Care grant have also increased the amount of money available to adapt homes. A new top-up grant of up to £15,000 allows for houses to be made disabled-friendly, while £2,000 is available for dementia-related work.

The plans were passed without dissent by the council.