My Current home requires repairs or adaptations
This section covers guidance on repairs or adaptations. Please choose one of the following links to direct you to the appropriate information:
- The property’s structure and exterior;
- Basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings including pipes and drains;
- Heating and hot water;
- Gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation;
- Electrical wiring;
- Any damage they cause by attempting repairs;
- Damage due to wear and tear.
It is your responsibility as the tenant to report any repairs to your landlord as soon as they arise. Your tenancy will set out your responsibilities as the tenant to pay for any deliberate or accidental damage to the property. For example, if you stain or burn a carpet you may be expected to cover the costs of a replacement. When making a complaint, written forms of communication are always useful for keeping track of responses and progress. Try to keep receipts of any letters posted by recorded delivery or set up a calendar of dates for when you made contact with your landlord or received responses from your landlord in relation to repairs. With written correspondence remember to provide details such as the date, your address and the nature of the repair. For instance, you could include:
- Photos of the disrepair;
- Whether there is any damage to your possessions or if you’ve had to replace anything;
- If you’ve had the disrepair looked at by a builder or other professional and include their assessment of the problem;
- A doctor’s note if the disrepair is affecting your health.
For private-renting tenants, there are steps you can take if your private landlord is not addressing any reported repairs. You can approach your local council’s environmental department for advice, especially if the condition of the property is affecting your health. In Scotland, private tenants can also approach the Private Renting Housing Panel for advice and support: https://www.housingandpropertychamber.scot/who-we-are It is possible to agree repairs with your landlord if you provide around three quotes for the work. Your landlord should pay the trade supplier in advance. If your property becomes inhabitable, the local council homelessness department will be able to advise on housing options and emergency accommodation.
There are a variety of ways that you can adapt your home to enable independent living with a visual impairment. Different eye conditions affect people in different ways. The RNIB have produced useful suggestions for potential changes that can be made around the home and surrounding environment. Also on this webpage are video clips of personal accounts from visually impaired individuals who have made specific adaptations to their homes: https://www.rnib.org.uk/information-everyday-living-home-and-leisure/adapting-your-home The funding of adaptations can depend upon where you live in the UK and on the nature of the adaptation. Adaptations are divided into two categories: minor and major. Minor adaptations are non-structural and temporary and can be easily removed from the property, such as external handrails and removable ramps. Social services generally calculate minor adaptations at under £1,000 (£1,500 in Scotland).
- England – adaptations less than £1,000 are normally provided free of charge, if your local council decides you need the adaptation and you’re eligible.
- Scotland – essential equipment and adaptations under £1,500 are generally provided free of charge.
- Wales – you may need to pay a reasonable amount towards any minor adaptations and equipment yourself, depending on your financial circumstances.
- Northern Ireland – your local health and social care trust decides whether or not you need to pay for any adaptations or equipment yourself.
Major adaptations are normally changes that require substantial works to your home. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Disability Facilities Grants can help cover associated costs. These are delivered by local councils and can be applied for through the relevant housing and environment department. Eligibility for a Disability Facilities Grant require that you or somebody in your household are disabled. A landlord can also apply on behalf of a disabled tenant. The person who the funding is being applied for must: own the property or be a tenant, and intend to live in the property during the grant period (which is currently 5 years). As above, any adaptations must be deemed reasonable by the council. A final decision on a Disability Facilities Grant application consider whether:
- necessary and appropriate to meet the disabled person’s needs
- reasonable and can be done – depending on the age and condition of the property
In Scotland, the funding for major adaptations works differently. Each local authority has its own policies on what support and how much financial assistance they provide. Assessments for funding are carried out by local authority social work services. Applicants need to be regarded in need of essential assistance from a local authority mandatory grant. Essential works include:
- fitting ‘standard amenities’, such as a bathroom or toilet.
- Changing these ‘standard amenities’, where this is needed so that you, or someone in your household, can use them.
- Other essential changes to the structure of your home so that it meets your needs.
All successful applicants of a mandatory grant receive 80% of costs, or 100% of costs if they are in receipt of Income Support, Income Based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit (guarantee element) and Income Related Employment and Support Allowance. The types of support and sources of potential funding for adaptations differ according to your housing circumstances. Please choose the link that best describes your situation to direct you to the relevant information on adaptations to the home:
If you are a private sector tenant, you can request for adaptations to be made to your home. Permission needs to be sought from your private landlord for any adaptations. From December 2006, the Disability Discrimination Act (UK) introduced that a private landlord cannot refuse an adaption on unreasonable grounds. However, decisions will consider:
- The nature of the adaptation you require; and
- Whether your landlord is willing for the adaptation to go ahead.
Private tenants have the right to ‘auxiliary aids’. These are adaptations provided by your private landlord upon request and which do not involve physical changes to the property. Examples include:
- a tenancy agreement in Braille, large print or Easy Read
- a ramp for a wheelchair user
- any special furnishings you need to use in the house, such as a stool in the kitchen to support you when you’re preparing food, or a raised seat for your toilet
- accessible taps for the kitchen or bathroom
- accessible door handles
- signs (such as fire notices) in large print or Braille
- a doorbell or entry phone system you can use more easily
- painting doors and window frames a darker colour so you can see them more easily
- equipment to help you access any other facilities available to tenants, such as a ramp so you can get into the garden or a wider space in the car park.
However private landlords can refuse to carry out adaptations if it involves high costs and a cheaper option is available, or if your landlord does not have the right to make communal alterations. There may be a conflict of opinion between you and your landlord in what is viewed as an ‘auxiliary aid’. For example, a guide rail can be seen as temporary and easy to re-install but, equally can be regarded as making physical change to the property. In situations where differences of opinion arise, you can enlist the advice and support of external organisations. Useful contacts are:
- Citizens Advice https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
- Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en
- your local disability advice centre – use the national disability information service Update to find a service near you.
- Your local Council’s Occupational Therapy and/or Social Work department.
If you rent from your local council or a housing association, you can ask for adaptations to be carried out to your home. It can depend upon the nature of the adaptation required and where you live in the UK. Please follow the link below to find out information about minor adaptations, also known as ‘auxiliary aids’, that can include guide rails or painting colour contrasts in the property. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/discrimination/what-are-the-different-types-of-discrimination/duty-to-make-reasonable-adjustments-for-disabled-people/ For bigger adaptations, also known as major adaptations, your social landlord will likely request a care needs assessment from your local social work services. They will also take into consideration:
- your safety and the safety of anyone who lives with you or near you
- any costs your landlord may incur as a result of the adaptations
- whether the work is likely to reduce the value of the property or make it less suitable for letting or sale in the future
- whether the adaptations will have an effect on the size of the accommodation
- the nature of your disability and how it affects you
- how well the adaptation you request will meet your needs
- the effect on your well-being if the adaptation isn’t carried out
- your ability to pay for the work
- the length of time you’re likely to live in the property
- how much work is involved
- how disruptive the work will be for your neighbours
- whether the work will comply with planning permission and building standards requirements
- whether it will be possible or necessary to put the property back to the way it was before the work was done
- the Code of Practice issued by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
Shelter Scotland’s website contains information on what to do if your social landlord refuses the carry out a request for adaptations to your home: http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/advice_topics/repairs_and_bad_conditions/adapting_your_home/adaptations_in_council_and_housing_association_homes
- Advice and support if you need adaptations or home repairs – many will support you through the whole process of applying for a Disabled Facilities Grant
- Energy efficiency measures
- Handypersons services
If you are in England, you can search for your nearest Home Improvement Agency or Handyperson service on the following page: http://www.findmyhia.org.uk Foundations England also have useful discussion boards and advice on carrying out adaptations in general. The link to their webpage is: http://www.foundations.uk.com Care and Repair Scotland offers independent local advice to disabled homeowners to repair, improve or adapt their homes: http://www.careandrepairscotland.co.uk The following page is a useful starting point if you live in Wales: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/housing/moving-and-improving-your-home/help-with-home-improvements/
How to get involved with decisions that affect your housing
Have you ever wanted to become involved in decisions that affect your housing and the housing of others? There are many ways people can get involved. Some options will depend upon whether you rent or own your property. Below are some suggestions for how to get involved with your housing:
- Tenant Association- Often social landlords such as Housing Associations or Housing Cooperatives welcome tenants to join their board or specific tenant participation group. Your contribution can help inform your social landlord of any challenges that you experience (and perhaps other tenants with sight loss), as well as any services or features that particularly assist disabled tenants to live independently.
- Local Access Panel – Across the UK, some local authority areas run an Access Panel. The role of Access Panels is to look at how accessible different parts of the environments that disabled people live in are. For example, an Access Panel might look at how suitable a planned new development is for disabled people. Keep reading for more information on these.
- Local authority user groups- Your local authority may provide opportunities for you to become involved in housing related discussions. Local authorities can differ in terms of how many user groups they operate and the specific focus of these groups. For example, some may run a co-production group for disabled citizens whilst others may have a mainstream housing related group. You can contact your local authority or look online at their website to find out what opportunities might be available for you to become involved.
- Centre for Inclusive Living – Centres for Inclusive Living gather the views and experiences of members in order to support calls for changes to policy or practices. Some CILs run a Housing Information Service. You may find a CIL near where you live and be able to participate as a member or by providing feedback as an individual.
- Involve – Involve are a national charity who operate as an advisory body and provide guidance for members of the public to become involved in social research or health campaigns: www.involve.org.uk
- * Disability Rights UK – This is a Disabled People’s Organisation which strives for a society where everybody can participate equally. It enables disabled people to have voice and influence, working with a number of organisations to put disabled people’s priorities at the heart of their policies and practices. Members receive up to date information on current issues which affect disabled people, which could include housing-related issues. You will also be able to attend and even speak at conferences and events. Click here for more information: https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/membership/individual-benefits
Local Access Panels
England and Wales:
- Local Access Forums enable members to advise decision making organisations, such as local authorities, about making improvements to public access for outdoor recreation and travel. Although they advise on the outdoor environment rather than housing, there may be the opportunity to discuss physical barriers in your local area. For information about how to become a member in England and where meetings take place, click: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-access-forums-participate-in-decisions-on-public-access.
- For Welsh Local Access Forums, click: https://naturalresources.wales/days-out/recreation-and-access-policy-advice-and-guidance/networks-and-partnerships/local-access-forums/?lang=en
- The Access Association is a national network of individuals who meet and discuss access and inclusive design. Members are mostly from professional backgrounds, such as access officers, but they state that they are open to anyone with an interest in access and inclusion. For further details about meetings, click here: https://www.accessassociation.co.uk/regions/
- The National Register of Access Consultants is list of professionals who have signed up to a register and will assist the government or professional bodies when it is requested to. In these cases, it will advise on inclusive design and accessibility issues. Those who have an interest in the access field, and would like to receive a newsletter or attend conferences and events (but are not professionals and so will not be able to do consulting or auditing work) can become ‘Supporters’. There is a reduced joining fee for access/disability groups and unwaged individuals of £36.
- The Access Panel Network in Scotland provides a directory of local panels which address issues in the built environment: http://accesspanelnetwork.org.uk/directory-panels/
Getting Involved – What are the practicalities?
You may find it useful to think through what access requirements you need in order to be involved in meetings, for example, and how your involvement can be supported by an organisation or group. A Big Lottery funded initiative called Shaping Our Lives produced a guide in 2017 for disabled people written by disabled people, that outlines key considerations for becoming a service user representative. According to the guide the essential elements that create positive experiences for service user representatives are: equality, mutual respect, ownership, structure, commitment and feedback.
The guide outlines good practice in terms of payment of members of the public and recognition of their contribution. They highlight issues to consider during budgeting, including the hire of accessible venues, necessary training or travel expenses. You may also be in receipt of social security benefits and need to find out whether payments might affect your income status. There are rules concerning ‘permitted work’ for example so that an individual can earn a certain amount per week.
Involve suggest following the information on their website that should provide up-to-date guidance:
How can your group best support you?
You could draw the attention of your organisation or group to the guide (follow link above), aimed at providing insights for organisations and public bodies seeking to assess or improve
their inclusiveness of disabled service users. It lays four essential steps for the involvement of service user representatives:
1. Profile the service users you currently work with, and build better connections with them
2. Set out 30-day goals to improving the involvement of service user representative
3. Include a call for service user representatives in any communications to the service user community
4. Provide follow up and feedback
There are useful checklists that cover necessary points during the induction process and the first meeting between yourself and the organisation/group. Resources for organisations to assess and improve their accessibility, inclusiveness of their service user involvement processes and environmental accessibility are available to search for on the Shaping Our Lives website: https://www.shapingourlives.org.uk
Examples of Becoming Involved in Housing Issues
There are many ways you an become involved with issues that affect your housing. These issues could be wide ranging because housing touches upon other aspects of life, including accessible public transport, accessible environments and social security. Below is a link to a case study of visually impaired individuals coming together to tackle a Shared Space scheme. The program is by the radio4 BBC In Touch program: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bgbh58
Where do you want to go next?
- Guide Home Page
- I want to think about my options for a Future Move
- I am or will be a student
- I need information on living independently;
- I need information on the moving process;
- I am homeless or facing homelessness/eviction;
- I need to move urgently – I don’t feel safe where I am living now;
- My current home requires repairs or adaptations;
- Jargon Buster