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Disability Discrimination Act and Property Lettings

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 19 Sep 2019 | comments*Discuss
Disabled Tenant Discrimination Act

The law applying to disability discrimination applies to landlords. Since December 4th 2006 landlords have had to be aware of their legal duties regarding disabled people who may need their homes to be altered or have some form of assistance to live in the homes that they are renting.

Adapting Your Property

Although there are certain obligations on a landlord to make adaptations, the measures that you may need to take don’t include removing or altering what’s defined as a physical feature of the property. A physical feature could be:

  • any feature that forms part of the way that the property is designed or constructed
  • any feature that’s part of the approach to, exit from or access to the property
  • any fixtures in or on the property.
Things that you would not have to do, for example, include moving a drying area or a communal entrance for a block of flats.If a tenant asks to make adaptations, they have to make a request in writing, and any request must be ‘reasonable’. It’s also not necessarily up to the landlord to foot the bill for any alterations to a property that need to be carried out.

If a disabled person asks for you for a specific improvement, and you have to make this adjustment, you could get help from many different sources. It’s possible to get grants – or small supplies such as portable ramps, from your local social services department. If social services won’t fund the adjustment then, you may have to pay for it yourself, or come to an agreement with the tenant about the cost.

Auxiliary Aids

If you rent your property to a disabled tenant, you have a duty to provide them with what’s called ‘auxiliary aids and services’ to make it easier for them to live in the property. These only need to be provided if without them it would difficult or impossible for the tenant to enjoy full use of the property. Some things that a landlord could reasonably be expected to do are:

  • making changes to furniture and furnishings in the property
  • replacing or providing signs
  • replacing taps or door handles that are difficult for a disabled person to use
  • adapting door bells or door entry systems

Ways of Discriminating Against Disabled Tenants

There are several ways that a tenant or potential tenant can claim that you have discriminated against them, so be aware of this when taking on or considering a disabled tenant.

You can’t refuse to let the property to someone who is disabled. Even if you don’t think the property is suitable for them, you still can’t use that as a reason to refuse then a tenancy.

You must not refuse to allow a disabled tenant the use of any communal facilities on the grounds of their disability, refuse to carry out repairs or renovations, or give them less favourable treatment in any way.

Changing The Terms of a Lease

In some cases, there may be terms in a standard tenancy agreement which make it difficult for a disabled person to live in the property. One example of this could be a ban on pets in the property, which would mean that a tenant who has, or develops, sight problems could be unable to have a sight assistance dog. In this case, it would be unreasonable to insist on this term of the tenancy agreement, and most landlords would simply waive it to allow a guide dog.

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I rent from a private landlord and have disabilities the landlord granted permission for the Council to change the bathroom into a wet room at no cost to the landlord I now need a safety handle on the outside of the front door to enable me easier access to the property I have had to agree to the removal of same if I ever vacate the premises can this stand up in a court of law according to the disability rights act There were 2 handles fitted to the rear door of the premises when tenancy began belonging to the property which I told the letting agency I could not be held liable for their removal as they were already in situ regarding the front entrance can I legally be held responsible for the removal of same as the Council are putting it up to ensure my safety as an elderly person this is causing me some concern
Rafflesmum - 19-Sep-19 @ 1:13 PM
Can a private landlord refuse to rent property to you because you are on benefits due to being disabled. I have phoned many estate agents up and getting the same reply (not renting to people on Benefits ) I explained I was disabled . But was still told sorry not renting to people on benefits , you must be working to be able to rent property, the owner of property has said not to rent to people on benefits. Surely this can not be fair . So Disable people can not rent property due to being on benefits? How do disable people rent property from private landlords if the only income they do have is benefits. As they are unable to work .
Poodle - 26-Jul-19 @ 11:45 PM
@gemini - there is not much you can do about this. Sharing a house is always fraught with differences of opinion. But you can't make demands on your other housemates. You can only ask that people are quiet and respectful. But it's certainly not easy to enforce and you have no right to enforce it :(
ABeh - 14-Nov-17 @ 1:46 PM
Hello. I need advice.I am deaf with a cochlear implant. I share house with other three tenants. when i watch TV in shared room, I need a quiet time. Sadly some of them are very rude and ignire my request for keeping their voices down. My landlord does not want to do anything about that. Do I have any right as a deaf person to ssk mt landlord to allow mw watch tv alone in living room? i find it stresful to understand in the room where people shout. I do have tv in my room but i cannot be confined to my room all the time and i pay to use shared luving room..Am i wrong to demand this?
gemini - 13-Nov-17 @ 7:49 PM
Dave - Your Question:
Can a landlord refuse on the grounds that the disabled persons only income is DLA

Our Response:
The Disability Discrimination Act makes it illegal for landlords to discriminate against tenant because of a disability, meaning the landlord must treat all possible tenants equally. Examples of ways in which the landlord may treat a disabled tenant less favourably include refusing to let to a disabled person. However, it is not illegal for a private landlord to refuse a property to a tenant who will be claiming benefits. If this is the reason of the refusal to let and that reason is also used where able-bodied tenants are concerned, then this reason is not classed as discriminatory.
ThePropertyLandlord - 24-Feb-17 @ 11:52 AM
Can a landlord refuse on the grounds that the disabled persons only income is DLA
Dave - 23-Feb-17 @ 2:00 PM
We have lived in this rented house for five years. In 2014 my husband was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.Our landlord has refused to allow a ramp to be fitted so my husband can leave and return into and out of the property in a motorised wheelchair. We are at our wits end as Keith badly needs the wheelchair for support and comfortwhat can I do?MAT
cookiecate - 15-Oct-15 @ 9:39 PM
My daughter who is 29 has a disability which makes her incapable of working.She has a full disabilty income which she was made to feel bad about byletting agency.She was given a date to look at a property,once she disclosed her form of income the date was changed to a later date and was told the property may be gone by then. The same agency also refused her a viewing of another property because she " didn't think the property was suitable for her' even though it waa ground floor. I really feel my daughter is being discriminated against. What can I do about this?Regards Tracy
singer - 7-Feb-15 @ 5:14 PM
I have over the past 2 yrs became disabled I use an electric wheel chair to get around out side. I have asked for a way to master the curb to my place. I was told that the owners will not make any alterations to any curb. Basically because then they would have to do it for anyone.
kathlleen - 23-May-14 @ 6:54 AM
I have a disabled friend who cannot use the shower facilities in her rented property. When she showers the water goes into the bedroom and she has already slipped once. Is the landlord obliged to alter the shower to make it safe?
superrav - 3-Oct-11 @ 12:01 AM
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