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Discrimination in housing - adaptations to your home

This advice applies to Scotland

If you’re disabled, you may need to make adaptations to your rented home to make things easier for you. For example, you may need to install a walk in shower, change your door entry system or install a ramp.

In some situations you may be able to ask your landlord to do this under their duty to make reasonable adjustments. Or you may be able to do the work yourself with your landlord’s consent.

Read this page to find out more about when you can have adaptations made to your home under the Equality Act 2010 if you’re disabled.

The duty to make reasonable adjustments

The Equality Act 2010 says the landlord or the manager of a property has a duty to make reasonable adjustments to certain things when you’re renting a property. They must do this if you’re disadvantaged by something because of your disability.

For example, they may have to change a policy or way of doing things or provide information in an accessible format.

The landlord or manager of a rented property include – for example:

  • the owner of a property
  • estate agents or a property management company
  • a local authority or housing association.  

►More about who mustn’t discriminate against you

Does your landlord have a duty to make adaptations to your home?

Your landlord doesn’t have to make changes which affect the structure or which would substantially and permanently alter your home. For example, they don’t have to remove walls, widen doorways or install permanent ramps. But there are some things they must do to adapt your home if you’re disabled and if it’s reasonable to do so.

What can you ask your landlord to do under the Equality Act?

You can ask your landlord to do the following things under the Equality Act:  

  • remove, replace or provide any furniture, furnishings, materials or equipment - so long as it would not become a permanent fixture when installed
  • replace or provide signs or notices
  • replace taps or door handles
  • replace, provide or adapt your door bell or door entry system
  • change the colour of any surface - for example, a wall or a door.

Example

You’re deaf and you can’t hear the door bell. You can ask your landlord to install a visual door entry system so that you know when someone is at the door. This is likely to be a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act.

If you’re a social housing tenant

Under housing law, if you’re a social housing tenant you will usually have the right to adapt your home if this is necessary because of your disability. But you will need to get your landlord’s consent before doing any work.

If you’re a private rented tenant

If you’re a private rented tenant, your tenancy agreement may also allow you to make disability- related changes to your home with the consent of your landlord. The Equality Act sets out the procedure to follow to get your landlord’s consent.

If you ask for permission to make disability-related adaptations to your home, your landlord mustn’t unreasonably refuse to give their consent. This means they must have a good reason for refusing.

It’s best to ask your landlord for permission in writing. You should provide details of the works you want to carry out and how they will be carried out. You should also say if you intend to reinstate the accommodation to its original condition when you leave.

If your landlord refuses to give their consent, they must tell you in writing why they’ve refused.

If your landlord can’t give a good reason for refusing or if they don’t respond to your written request for consent within a reasonable time, their consent is considered as having been given under the law.

If this is the case, you should seek advice before you make any adaptations - for example,  from a Citizens Advice Bureau, as you must be certain your landlord’s acted unreasonably. You can also ask the county court to make a declaration that the landlord has acted unreasonably.   

Here are examples of things to look at to decide whether your landlord has a good reason for refusing consent:

  • the type and length of the letting
  • your ability to pay for the improvement
  • how easy it is to make the adaptations
  • the extent of any disruption and effect on other occupiers.

Your landlord can attach conditions to their consent as long as they’re reasonable.

You must comply with a reasonable condition, otherwise you’ll be considered as being in breach of an obligation of your tenancy.

Here are examples of reasonable conditions:

  • that you obtain the necessary planning permissions
  • that your landlord is able to inspect the work carried out
  • if the adaptations would substantially reduce the value of the property, that you must reinstate the things you’ve changed before the end of the tenancy.

If your landlord refuses to give consent for you to make adaptations , you can challenge this in the county court. The landlord will have to show that it was not unreasonable to withhold consent.

What if your tenancy agreement doesn’t allow you to make changes to your home?

If you need to make adaptations to your home because of your disability, but your tenancy agreement doesn’t allow you to do this, you can ask your landlord to change the terms of your agreement. They should agree to this under their duty to make reasonable adjustments.  

Next steps

Other useful information

Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS)

If you have experienced discrimination, you can get help from the EASS discrimination helpline.

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

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