The Equality Act 2010 set out ways to protect people in society, including the rental sector.
According to the Act, a person has a disability if;
- The person has a physical or mental impairment, and
- This impairment has a substantial, long-term effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.
Under Section 36 of the Equality Act 2010, the duty to make reasonable adjustments applies to controllers of premises (landlords or the manager of the property), A controller (landlord) of the premises must avoid any disadvantage caused by a provision, criterion or practice. Essentially this means that, as a landlord, letting or estate agent it is illegal to;
1. Refuse to rent to a disabled person because of their disability
2. Refuse to allow a guide dog or assistance dog under the no pets rule
3. Charge higher rent or deposit to disabled tenants
4. Refuse access to additional facilities that are available to other tenants (e.g. laundry room or parking space)
5. Evict a tenant due to disability or illness
6. Give tenants a less secure tenancy agreement
Tenants that feel they are being discriminated against, they could talk to Citizens advice or the EHRC.
Landlords are responsible for providing necessary, reasonable adaptations to make the property accessible and suitable to their individual needs.
This can include auxiliary aids like:
- Wheelchair ramps
- Written documents
- Accessible door handles
- Accessible taps
- Special furnishings like raised toilet seats.
Requirements for New Builds:
On 25th of June 2019, the Government announced plans to consult on “mandating higher accessibility standards for new housing.” The document that was released at this time outlined standards for accessible homes.
The document describes three access standard categories:
Category 1: Visitable dwellings, the regulatory minimum requirements for all new dwellings.
Category 2: Accessible and Adaptable, an optional requirement dependent on planning policy or developer choice.
Category 3: Either 1). wheelchair accessible or 2) allow adaptions for wheelchair use. Again, this is an optional requirement depending on planning and developer discretion.
Planning policies differ across the UK, this means that Category 1 is mandatory however Category 2 isn’t. The London plan requires Category 2 in 90% of new build homes. Outside of London, this number falls to just 14%.
What is category 2?
Category 2 homes are designed to be more accessible.
Exterior – Level access to the front and rear doors, and the canopy over the front.
Interior – Category 2 homes must have a living area and WC at entrance level, accessible level doors and kitchens with sufficient access room.
Interior (upstairs) – Bedrooms must have clear access routes to windows. Doors and corridors must have sufficient width to allow free movement. Stairs must be designed so that a stairlift can be easily fitted if required.
The Disabled Facilities Grants
Landlords and tenant alike can apply for a disabled facilities grant which provides funds for adaptations. This grant is supplied by the local council and is subject to an eligibility test where an occupational therapist will assess the property and the adaptations needed before making a decision.
The grant can help towards:
- widen doors and install ramps
- improve access to rooms and facilities – eg stairlifts or a downstairs bathroom
- provide a heating system suitable for your needs
- adapt heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use
The amount received will depend on the household income and household savings over £6,000.
The maximum limits for the grant are:
England up to £30,000
Wales up to £36,000
Northern Ireland up to £25,000
Scotland Disabled Facilities Grants are not available
It’s important to note that the grant will not affect any benefits currently being paid. Most councils also have an annual budget and the grant is usually subject to the budget available.
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