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Getting home adaptations

Adaptations are changes you can make to your home to help you live more comfortably. For example, you could get adaptations if you're disabled or if you have needs related to your age

You can get help from social work to work out what adaptations you need and how to get them. This is called a care assessment.

If you rent your home you'll need your landlord's permission to do adaptations. If you own your home you could need planning permission.

Getting a care assessment

The social work department at your local council can arrange for a specialist to work out what you need. These specialists are called occupational therapists.

Your GP can help you talk to social work if you need this.

You can find your local council’s social work contact details on

What happens at a care assessment

Generally, an occupational therapist will meet you in your home. They'll ask you to perform certain everyday tasks to see what kind of help you need.

The tasks you'll be asked to complete depend on your needs. Some examples are:

  • making a cup of tea

  • getting out of bed

  • getting down the stairs

  • getting in and out of the shower or bath

The occupational therapist will then make recommendations on what you need to make living in your home easier for you. This can be things like:

  • putting up handrails

  • installing a wet room

  • adapting your kitchen to your needs

  • widening doorways and installing ramps for wheelchair access

Getting aids to help you at home

Social work can also assess if you need aids that do not affect the property structure, such as a ramp or a raised seat on your toilet. These are called auxiliary aids.

Your landlord should provide auxiliary aids if you rent. Social work may also be able to provide and install these. Check our advice on your rights if you’re disabled and rent your home.

Getting advice about care assessments

There are specialist charities that give advice on getting a care assessment and adaptations.

Check the Disability Information Scotland website for online advice and to find a local advice service.

Paying for adaptations

You may need to pay for the adaptations yourself, but you could get help from the council or charitable grants. Check our advice on paying for adaptations.

Getting adaptations if you own your home

If you own your home you may need to get a building warrant or planning permission to make bigger changes, especially if they affect the structure of your property. You can:

Getting adaptations if you rent your home

You need permission from your landlord. They must consider:

  • your disability and how it affects you

  • your safety and the safety of anyone who lives with or near you

  • how well the requested adaptation would meet your needs and how you would be affected without it

  • if there's a more reasonable way to meet your needs, for example a stairlift rather than a downstairs bathroom

  • your ability to pay for the work and any costs that the landlord might have to pay

  • if the value of the property will be reduced

  • how long you’re likely to live in the property and if the property can be put back to its original condition when you move out

How to get permission depends on who you rent your home from.

If you rent from the council or a housing association

Your landlord should carry out adaptations recommended by social work free of charge. If you want to do the adaptations yourself, you’ll need to get their permission.

Write to your landlord to ask for permission before doing any of the work. If they do not respond within a month, you can assume they have given permission.

Your landlord can only refuse permission for you to adapt your home if they have a good reason. Get legal advice as soon as possible if they refuse.

You need to apply to the sheriff court within 21 days of their decision to appeal:

  • a refusal of permission to adapt your home

  • any unfair conditions your landlord imposed on adapting your home

The sheriff can order your landlord to consent to the adaptations, or to change a condition of their consent.

If you rent from a private landlord or letting agent

You need to get permission from your landlord to make any changes that affect the structure of your home, such as handrails, widened doorways, or a stairlift.

Write to your landlord to ask them for permission to do the adaptations. If they do not respond within one month, you should assume they have not given permission.

If your landlord gives permission they might put conditions on this, such as reverting the property back to how it was if you move out.

They can only refuse if they have a good reason.

Get legal advice if your landlord unreasonably refuses your request. A solicitor can help you apply to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) to appeal their decision. You can also apply if their conditions for permission are unfair.

The tribunal can order your landlord to give permission, and in some cases to pay you compensation.

To apply, download Form G on the tribunal website.

If you have access needs, download the inclusive provision questionnaire. For example, if you need an induction loop or an interpreter.

You can send your form and evidence by email or post:

If you're sending a lot of evidence, include a list that explains what each document is and how it relates to your application.

Getting legal advice

Contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service if you need help. They can help you work out if your landlord is acting unlawfully by refusing.

A solicitor can help you challenge your landlord's decision and represent you in tribunal or court.

Find a solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland website

Solicitors charge for their work. Check our advice on getting free legal advice or legal aid to help with costs.

Last updated: 15 December 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England