Once damp sets in, a house can become uninhabitable in a few years.

Dampness and the mould that results from it can also lead to a number of medical conditions, including respiratory infections, such as pleurisy and bronchitis, as well as rheumatic fever and phthisis, all of which relate directly to a chilled, damp environment. A number of lending institutions and government departments offer low-interest loans for home improvements and repairs, but only one grant is available for home repairs such as damp proofing.

USDA Section 504 Grant

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a Section 504 Housing Repair & Rehabilitation grant program through the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

This grant is available to property owners or long-lease holders who fulfil the criteria.

The program also offers low-interest loans, but the grant is available to those who are unable to afford the monthly repayments on a loan. Grants to a maximum of £4,875 may be given during an applicant's lifetime.

Personal Eligibility

The applicant must be a rural resident over the age of 62 years and have a total household income that is less than 50 per cent of the median income for the area.

He must be the occupier of the property in need of repair and must be either the owner or the holder of a long lease with at least two years remaining on it. He must have acceptable credit references and be unable to afford traditional credit. All co-owners of the property must sign the grant agreement, and they must repay the grant in full if they sell the property within three years of the agreement date.

Damp Proofing Eligibility

Home improvements that qualify for the Section 504 grant program include repairs necessary to make the home safer or more sanitary or to remove health and safety hazards. This only applies to repairs to existing homes, not the installation of damp proofing in a new house under construction. Damp proofing may be eligible if considered a major hazard, and an expert or medical opinion may be required to support the application. Damp proofing for a mobile home may be eligible if the home has a permanent foundation and the applicant both occupies and owns the home and site.

Grant Requirements

Complete the grant application using the eForm available online from the USDA Service Center Agencies website.

Submit the forms electronically, or register to get a USDA authentication ID and password and apply online. You will be required to provide a report on the repairs needed and a quotation for the work, and the grant amount you apply for must be sufficient to cover the repairs in full and restore the property to a safe and habitable environment.