We have recently rented our house out to a family for 6 months, unfurnished, using Openrent Rent Now. The tenant has complained that he has a dust allergy and has asked us to replace the carpets because he thinks they are “infested with dust”.
What are the landlords responsibilities with regards to some one suffering from an allergy?
It seems to us that the Disability Discrimination Act could apply. As any medically recognised condition could amount to a physical or mental impairment (shelter.org.uk)
Clearly replacing the carpets is expensive. Plus, we cannot be sure that this will actually improve the allergy. It is likely the tenant will leave in 6 months because they are living in the area for work reasons on a short term contract.
What would be considered “reasonable adjustments”?
I should add that the main living room carpet is the one he has now asked to be replaced. It is only 2 years old. We cleaned it with our VAX carpet shampooer at the end of the previous tenancy about 2 months earlier. We also vacuum with a good Bosch vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter.
Did he tell you he had a dust allergy before he moved in? You could get all the carpets cleaned, that would be a reasonable solution. Did you do a previous landlord check.? Had he said the same thing there?
He did not tell us he had an allergy before he moved in. We had a reference from the previous landlord through Openrent Rent Now referencing - but this didn’t mention an allergy. But I don’t expect it would.
Not sure what the law is, but from a medical view point if you have a dust mite allergy that is so severe, why would you rent a house with carpets? Surely you would pick one with hard floors/vinyl?
If he has supplied his own furniture does he have a fabric or leather sofa? Again, a serious allergy sufferer would have leather or fake leather furniture. Same goes for padded fabric dining chairs. What is covering the windows? Again, a serious allergy sufferer would need to have blinds made of hard material, not curtains or fabric vertical blinds.
As for bedding who knows?! An allergy sufferer would need to hoover beds, boil wash bed linen, mattress and pillow case protectors. So even if he does have a genuine allergy, bedding is far more likely to house mites due to the warm and humid conditions of sleeping so how can he prove this?
Also, you mention it’s a family, so presumably there are no soft toys around to set off his allergy?
I would think you are more than entitled to ask for a doctors letter and test results. Doctors are too busy, and are often happy to tap out a letter containing one sentence for £30 plus without bothering to look back over a patients notes to clarify what they are asking for is actually something they have formally been diagnosed with (especially so vague as ‘dust allergy’, so that’s why I suggest you ask for the test result too.
A letter and request for test results may be enough to put him off.
It would appear you have done all you can reasonably do. i.e. clean carpets and vacuum with HEPA filter.
He could also provide himself with an dehumidifier and air purifier, both of which will help trap airborne allergens.
P.S. You could also ask how this allergy affects him. Ask how he usually copes when going into a carpeted building. That would be interesting!