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Disability Discrimination Act and Property Lettings

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 17 Jan 2023 | 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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Hi there! I have fnd and Dystonia and have non epileptic seizures inclusive of balance issues. I had been put on a housing list as my home is not ideal due to stairs. I am home bound mostly and as a result l am vitamin D deficient and with my ptsd and the noise where I live it’s hell! Nobody has been fighting my corner ! I’m so frustrated and upset ! I’ve been on gold band for years and it’s been of no use to me as the very “ few”that are suitable are for over 55/65? That doesn’t make any sense? I have tried privately and then my other obstacles are no benefits accepted! I told my social worker the last time ( well on paper ! As lost my voice part of my Dystonia affects my speech!) l wrote down l am considering renting a mobile home on a campsite as I can’t see any further options? But guess what? A campsite won’t let people stay permanently there! Now tell me what option do I have! I’m shocked through research to find that there’s in fact some companies that social services could have either contacted and explained my predicament to get assistance or at least let me know what indeed is possible? Any private properties that would accept me ? I’m not entitled to the extra money to top it up for the crazy rent prices? I’m depressed quite frankly and trying to keep going! I have medical records, social services etc not one person! After asking my doctor to explain my vitamin D deficiency and also the need for outdoor space. I feel completely devastated and failed by the very system that is supposed to help people!
Warrior - 17-Jan-23 @ 3:37 PM
My landlord put her ranch and cabins the getaway cabins up for sale coming home after church she told I needed to move because I dont have a lease I had asked her to fix the 8 large holes in the porch the cabin has no fire alarm or carbon monoxide the commode I plunged 8 times a day its leaking from the bottom of the bowl she has golf carts and wont get my garbage to the dumpster my mail she says I get to much she has gone through Christmas packages she has banged on my bedroom window she screams at me on the porch hates my dog I have never been late with my thousand dollar a month and also
White trash - 27-Aug-21 @ 10:19 AM
I have a severe heart condition which is exasperated by extremes of temperatures and causes excessive fatigue. My landlord is refusing to change a double glazed unit which is faulty (causing heat loss), exchange a mattress which is too small for the bed and rectify a lock allowing access into the outside area from the road. Is it reasonable for me to expect the landlord rectify these points as they affect my condition?
Lol - 18-Aug-21 @ 9:06 PM
I live in a HMO (house of multiple occupations) and I am disabled. I have made a request to be allowed to keep and assistance dog. My tenancy agreement does not have a pet clause and other Tennants have exotic animals. The letting agency have been very discriminative and quite frankly rude. They emailed me to say that another Tennant has raised concerns therefore my request was denied. They decline to give me a reason why. Is there anything I can do? I have also faced harassment from my housemates who it seems haven’t given their consent due to disliking me. Any advice would be so very appreciated
Stella - 11-Feb-21 @ 2:27 PM
We rent from a social housing provider and after the toilet stopped working we were told the earliest appointment was 2 days to which we agreed. They did not send anyone and left us without a toilet for 6 days. They knew that my husband uses the toilet 30 times a day and has mobility issues and said just use a bucket to flush the toilet. They now seem to think everything is okay as it is fixed but my husband has been ill and using the toilet with filling the bucket to flush the toilet has made his disability worse. Do we have any recourse ?? They actually said we were seen as an emergency.
Davers - 8-Dec-20 @ 4:09 PM
I have beena social housing tenant for the last 11 years and have lived in my particular home for the past 6 years. In 2015 I had a very minor accident at home where my garden chair broke it was very funny at the time and i didnt even spill my drink when i thumped on the floor. However this silly accident caused me to have some internal bleed and the knock on effect was a massive near fatal saddle pulmonary embolism and multiple bilateral pulmonary emboli. It has left me with severe breathing problems chronic COPD PTSDchronic pleurisy fibromyalgia . The social services have done several OT reports firstly recommending that i have a wetroom extension because i couldnt use the bath and could do with a downstairs toilet. So after the grant was applied for and drawing were done they were dragging their heels so when i complained , they changed their minds and did another OT report stopping the extensionand said i needed to be rehoused using the phrases "urgently" it was "imperative" that i was moved "immediately" to an area with good air quality to a bungalowor house that was adapted or could be. 5 years later i am still here struggling day to day for the last 5 years with little help. Last week i had the builders here from the landlord doing work in the bathroom one of them dropped something and has damaged the bath and it now has to be replaced so i asked if i could have a shower tray fitted and i said i was willing to pay towards itbut they have flatly refused to install one and wont give me a reason why , i dont want a wetroom as i really dont like them all i need is a shower tray and a glass door . Can any one advise me a waythat i to push to get one fitted i have not had a bath for 5 years and i need help getting into the bath to even shower as it is. thanks in advance.
steve - 10-Nov-20 @ 9:58 AM
What is the situation regarding guide dogs/assistance dogs in flats where the lease says no pets?
Paddy - 27-Apr-20 @ 1:20 PM
Hello,I have a disability degenerative disc disease and a multiple of chronic health conditions. Due to living conditions over the past 12/13yrs. My son has high level special needs. We moved last summer to another property of the same landlord. Told it was fit for living. This is totally untrue. Since moving in it’s had multiple of problems, to this day they have left us in a house, not fit for habitation. The house is covered in toxic black mould from roof to ground floor. We have had serious respiratory and skin conditions and all health conditions have been exacerbated. They also dug up asbestos flooring and roofing while we where in property. I have a multitude of photos and some videos since moving in in June 2019. I would appreciate support for my son and myself thank you.
Sharon Gardner - 8-Mar-20 @ 2:21 PM
I live in a bungalow housing association,I have rare disability,Hereditary spastic paraplegic,spg 4 gean ,over the three years ,I hve been hear not been able to use the garden,due to water,we have wall,as the ground higher at the back,so we have gray pipes at the bottom to drain the water off,we have the water from the stream,it's small flow,them all the bungalows ,are built on a pound,they know this,they pipes,which are checked every 20years I got told, not one of us have grass in the garden,it's gravel or slabs,I have taken photo's over the three years,Asking housing to help,had to put complaint in,it goes on like that,they did put a french in,in helps but the ground still damp,the other side you sink in the mud,water sits there in the winter,slads by the back are all uneven,at the try,This year,I got councillor in,still done,We got occupation therapy in,she did a report,said would I like to move,I said,yes,She got someone to help with the form,she sent it of,I,m still waiting for housing form,to say ,I can bid for bungalow,situation with that,Is I asjed for bungalow near my mom,one come empty,I rang this person,she rang them,she was waiting,I sorted of said ,because I got bungalow ,housed,I have granddaughter with the same condition,have to take her to the park,my daughter got the same condition but we all in different stages of the condition,my daughter in wheelchair,granddaughter ,has walker,I can walk but have to pace my self,we all get tired,they lot more to this,I have dyslexia,,would you give me some adivce on my situation, Olwyn
Solo - 13-Jan-20 @ 12:54 AM
I am wanting to rent a property and the agents say I will have to provide a guarantor as I am disibilty benefit, I explain I have a long term illness and will sadly not get better so will always be on high rate disability. Are the property agents in the right to make me find a guarantor when I also get housing benefit for where I rent now and will in a new rental home. I am Only having to move as need a bungalow instead of a house.
Deb - 29-Nov-19 @ 5:31 PM
Hi my father is 90 and finds it hard to walk and walks with a frame . He is looking at renting a sheltered flat but it says you have to be abled bodied are they allowed to put that in the rental agreement ?
Paula - 29-Oct-19 @ 12:07 PM
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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