It is an offence to discriminate against anyone with a disability, and this applies to landlords who are letting properties to tenants.
The rules are set out in the Equality Act 2010, and the most important thing to know is that if a disabled person wants to rent your property, you cannot refuse them or charge them more because this would be discrimination. In short, you must treat everyone the same.
But this may realistically mean you have to prepare the property to make sure it is disabled friendly. This means potentially making what the law defines as reasonable adjustments to make the property more suitable for disabled tenants.
So what could this involve?
Types of Adaptations
There are two types of adaptations that you may have to make to your property: physical changes and auxiliary aids.
Physical changes are large changes to the property that include structural changes. The law states that you do not have to change the physical features of the property but that you do have to provide smaller auxiliary aids.
One exception to the rules is where the property you are letting is your main home or if you share lots of facilities with the tenant, so this is something to be aware of.
Temporary adaptations include things like making changes to toilet seats, door handles and taps so they are more accessible, getting new furniture that is more usable, adding a ramp for wheelchairs, and installing grab rails. It could also involve repainting some areas a different colour for people who experience problems with visibility.
Physical Changes to Your Property
Physical changes may be required to make the property adaptable for wheelchair users, which could alter the building’s structure.
Such changes are more common when you are planning to rent to disabled people specifically, and these could involve making doorways wider, installing wet-room facilities or lowering worktops.
With large changes like installing a stairlift, you have to be reasonable and consider various factors including the cost, the effect on the property and the tenancy length.
Talk to Your Tenant
While these are a few examples of changes you could make to help make your property more accessible for people with disabilities, the fact is that many changes will be specific to the individual.
Some features will be helpful for one tenant but not for others. So rather than trying to second guess what your tenant needs, it’s better to ask them.
Don’t Forget About Communal Areas
These adaptations also apply to communal areas like the garden and hallway. You may have to liaise with the freeholder to make the adjustments.
Make Sure You Don’t Discriminate
Making changes to your property to accommodate people with disabilities is an important factor to be aware of when you are letting a property. This is a large topic, so you may want to get specialist advice, including legal advice, to make sure you are not unwittingly discriminating against your tenants.