Repairing and Improving Occupied Private Housing
The Council operates a Scheme of Assistance to people living in owner-occupied or privately rented housing by offering information and advice to help them meet the costs of having their homes repaired, improved or adapted.
Other schemes, operated by Warm Deal offers home insulation and draught proofing grants and Horizon Housing Association runs the local care and repair project primarily aimed at disabled and older owner occupiers on low incomes.
Details on the Council Scheme of Assistance can be found here.
The Disability Discrimination Act 2005
The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 (DDA) introduced a reasonable adjustment duty for premises and this came into force on 4 December 2006. This duty applies to those who let or manage premises and the duty is owed to a disabled tenant, prospective tenant or lawful occupier.
The duty on those who let or manage premises to make reasonable adjustments in relation to the letting of premises comprises a series of duties falling into three areas:
- providing auxiliary aids or services
- changing practices, policies or procedures
- changing a term of an existing tenancy.
Examples of these three areas are as follows:
Providing auxiliary aids or services
An auxiliary aid or service could include the following:
- information in large print or on tape
- provision of a sign language interpreter
- provision of a portable ramp
- replacement or provision of any signs or notices
- replacement of any taps or door handles.
Changing practices, policies or procedures
For example: a landlord is considering the introduction of a new parking policy for residents, which will limit the ability of tenants to park on the premises. A disabled resident with a mobility impairment, who is dependent on her car for her mobility, contacts the landlord and explains the problems that she will experience under the new policy. The landlord agrees to reconsider the parking policy or, if it is introduced, to waive any term that would prevent her from parking on the premises.
Changing a term of an existing tenancy
For example: a tenant develops a hearing impairment and wishes to have an assistance dog. A term of her tenancy agreement states that tenants cannot keep animals on the premises. The tenant raises this term with her landlord who agrees to change it so that she can keep an assistance dog on the premises. This is likely to be a reasonable step for the landlord to have to take.
There is no duty on the landlord to take any steps which would involve the removal or alteration of a physical feature (alteration means making a permanent change to a physical feature, e.g. installing a concrete ramp, as opposed to attaching something to the wall with a screw).
Physical features are defined in the regulations as:
- any feature arising from the design or construction of the premises
- any feature of any approach to, exit from or access to the premises
- any fixtures in or on the premises
- any other physical element or quality of any land comprised in the premises.
The following are not classed as physical features:
- any furniture, furnishings, material, equipment or other chattels in or on the premises
- the replacement or provision of any signs or notices
- the replacement of any taps or door handles
- the replacement, provision or adaptation of any door bell, or door entry system (for example, so that a deaf person knows that someone is at the door)
- changes to the colour of any surface (such as a wall or a door, for example).
Although there is no duty under the DDA for a landlord to make any adjustments to physical features, the obligation under the reasonable adjustments provisions to change a term of a letting in certain circumstances may also operate to permit the making of a disability-related improvement.
For example, a person with increasing mobility problems is unable to get to the upper floor of her rented house. She asks her landlord for permission to install a stairlift, at her own expense. Although there is a term in her lease prohibiting alterations from being made, the landlord changes the term to allow her to install the stairlift. This is likely to be a reasonable step for the landlord to have to take.
Funding may be available - see Section 6.1 for information about the Council's Scheme of Assistance.