The UK Government has recently launched a 10-week consultation to gather the views of disabled people, landlords, letting agents, local authorities, experts and organisations to inform regulations and guidance for disabled people when requesting adaptations to common parts of rental premises.
Lack of accessible social housing in the UK
In the UK, the lack of accessible housing has now reached a crisis point, and there are daily news items, sharing the stories of people who are living in unsuitable homes that fail to meet even the most basic of needs.
In the UK, only 9% of homes provide features that are accessible*, affecting the daily lives of people living with disabilities.
The most recent data from the Office for National Statistics+ found that in the year ending June 2021, 1 in 4 (24.9%) of people living with a disability aged 16-64 years rented social housing, compared with fewer than 1 in 10 (7.9%) non-disabled people.
Equality Act 2010
The Government is now committed to commencing section 36 of the Equality Act 2010, that will make a real contribution to its wider disability and levelling up agendas.
Everyone has a basic right to live as independently as possible, in a home that is safe and meets their needs. For homeowners, some adaptations can be made quicker and at little cost, but for those living in rented properties, this is not always the case.
The conservative government first addressed this disparity in 1995 with the introduction of the ‘reasonable adjustments duty’, which placed the duty on landlords to allow tenants and occupants to make adjustments to their home where it was reasonable.
It has since been recognised that the government could go further, and the 2010 Equality Act included provisions to extend the duty to common parts of residential leasehold properties – typically blocks of flats.
Currently a tenant can request that adjustments are made, but there is no legal duty for the landlord to do so in common parts.
Common parts include, outside areas, entrances, hallways, landings and stairwells. In these areas, the slightest adjustments, such as ramps, grabrails and improved lighting could make a marked difference, with people able to enter and leave their homes safely.
Acknowledging that there are associated costs to adjustments and adaptations, the government has moved to minimise the financial burden on landlords and associations, with the legislation making clear that a landlord can insist that the tenant funds any adjustments agreed as reasonable. This will also cover the ongoing maintenance and where necessary, the cost to remove and restore the building if and when the tenant moves on.
For some people living with a disability, the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) can help fund adaptations to their home. The grant is means tested for people over the age of 18 and depends on household income and savings, it also considers the amount of work that needs to be done. In some cases (depending on income) a person may need to contribute towards the cost of adaptations.
You can read more on the DFG here.
With the rising pressure on the UK to provide more accessible homes and create a more inclusive society, the government is keen to make this a success.
The consultation will run until 11:45pm on 18th August 2022, and the government are keen to hear the responses of anyone who has an interest in the proposals.
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