Disabled Tenant

Hello everyone,

A prospective tenant has applied to rent my property. The tenant is an elderly lady whom is disabled and has mobility problems.

  • Is it a landlords obligation to make, and fund, adaptations to the property prior to or during the tenancy? In short would i be obliged to fund adaptations such as handles, ramps etc?

  • If during a tenancy the tenant wished to make adaptions to the property such as the above, may i reasonably refuse them if it affects the condition of the property?

  • Should adaptions be made, is the tenant obligated to reinstate the property to its original condition? Practically speaking, this may mean re-tiling a bathroom should they install grab handles etc and be required to drill through tiling

Guidance appreciated

Thanks

Hi Mark

Service providers are required to make “reasonable adjustment” under the terms of the equalities act
However what “reasonable” means is not well defined.

So for example cost can be an issue . Is the cost reasonable. If you only have one property adjustments that made letting that property not viable would be unreasonable.

But if you have multiple properties but only let one to a disabled person it would be considered reasonable for you to use your profit from your portfolio of prosperities to make adjustments for a disabled tenant in one of them.

However you may also find you can assist your tenant to obtain grants or free equipment to modify the property - you might appreciate that their additional disability benefits might help with rent security.

But just be a decent human being - and do what you can to help someone who might not have the advantages you have to live a reasonable life. Personally I’s try to go the extra mile for disabled tenants as much as I can .

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You are not required to pay for adjustments or adaptations beyond the basic.

Many thanks both

The property has had a full refurbishment from top to bottom, as such I’ll have to stress to the prospective tenant that they need to determine if the property does in fact meet their needs in its current state and discuss any additional requirements from there.

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A place for disabled has to have wider dooways , a ramp up to front and rear, .Light switches and sockets at a particular hieght, kitchen worktops at a certain height and a few more . Such are easily done in a new build ,but harder to adapt an older existing building.

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Hi Colin that is one sort of disability adaptation but some people with disabilities won’t need these things.
A profoundly deaf person for instance does not need wide doorways or ramps but might want a flashing doorbell.
A person with learning disabilities may just need easy read version of contract /rules
A bling person may need some tactile guides or your communications in a format they can read with suitable software
Some people need easy turn taps but don’t need wheelchair access.

I think you are thinking about wheelchair accessible flat - there are lots of other disabilities which don’t need such major structural changes…

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This is very true, but you said your prospective tenant has mobility problems.

Matthew17 said mobility problems . MY legs are not as good as they could be either. ! saw a wonderful mobility scooter for sale in Southport at £6K… 15 MPH… I will have to widen my dooways and move the ornaments,

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Ok - yes the OP was about mobility adaptations - but the discussion widened a lttle.

The main thing is to realise that your duties are not specified by housing law but by the provision of the (Equalities Act 2010) you only have to make adjustments if the tenant asks you and if they are the requests are REASONABLE!
If you don’t make the adjustments if these requirements are met then it is is discrimination under the terms of the Act
This applies both with exiting tenants and when interviewing new tenants

The word “reasonable” is a key one - but often hard to define. And in terms of the financial hit a court would consider more expensive adjustments which are reasonable for a big landlord who can spreads costs over income from multiple properties would not necessarily be considered reasonable for a small landlord letting a single property .

To stay on right side of the law ensure you do not discriminate on the ground of his disability in your tenant selection process " You are welcome to look round and see if the flat meets your needs"
Then be honest - eg “I think there is little scope for doing the adaptions you might need in this flat - as there cost would be unreasonably high and they would adversely affect the flat for future tenants too an extent that would not be reasonable”

But the law has teeth - so if you are a larger landlord and you don’t let any flats suitable for disabled tenants or you rule against them in your selection process or argue this eventually someone or an organisation supporting theme will appeal and you have a court case on your hands and a court might reckon it is reasonable that you might convert this flat out of many.

Hope this helps (I have had to deal with this law and advise on it in my day job for the last 20 years)

Mark

We have a BTL ground floor flat that is next to the fire door in the corridor to outdoors. Exiting via that fire exit door is a great way to leave the building without having to push through 4 heavy spring loaded corridor fire barrier doors and then getting the front door open, also strongly spring loaded and inward opening.

It has occurred to me that our flat would suit someone with mobility issues, but only of the fire exit door locking was adapted so a special key could always gain access.

Got a feeling that some rule would be quoted by the management company so ‘no can do’.

Suppose minor adaptations are okay but what happens when the mobility problems potentially get worse?

Ok if they are happy to go out not care but if not it could be tricky.