Home adaptations if you rent from the council or housing association

This page looks at what you need to do if you have a Scottish secure tenancy (SST) or short Scottish secure tenancy (SSST) and you need to carry out adaptations to make your home more suitable for your needs.

What do I need to do to get adaptations carried out?

If you rent from the council or a housing association and your home is no longer meeting your needs, or the needs of anyone else in your household, you should get in touch with your landlord as soon as possible.

Some adaptations may not involve making changes to the property itself, for example, getting a ramp or a raised seat for your loo. These are known as 'auxiliary aids', and it's likely that your landlord will need to provide them for you, if you ask. Read the page on renting rights for disabled people to find out more.

Will the council do the adaptations for me?

The council or housing association must provide auxiliary aids and services that you request, and you shouldn't need to have a care assessment first. If your landlord says they can't provide extra aids without an assessment, talk to an adviser at a disability rights centre - they should be able to help you sort this out.

When it comes to bigger adaptations, councils or housing associations are only likely to carry out work that is absolutely necessary. You may have to have your needs assessed by the social work department before the council will do the work. The assessment will look at how you cope with day-to-day living, and the social work department will then recommend help or equipment that might make life easier for you to live in your home.

This may take some time, however, your landlord should carry out any recommended adaptations free of charge.

What if I want to do adaptations myself?

You may find it faster and more convenient to carry out the adaptations yourself. However, you will need to write to the council or housing association to ask for permission first.

If your landlord doesn't respond to your request within one month, you can assume that they have given their permission.

What does my landlord need to take into account?

When making their decision, the council or housing association has to take into account:

  • 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).

Can my landlord say no?

Your landlord cannot withhold their consent unreasonably. However, they can impose certain conditions. For example:

  • They can set certain standards for the work, taking into account the age and condition of the property and the cost of meeting these standards, and ask to inspect and comment on the plans.

  • They can impose conditions on the way the work is carried out, for example, they may request that noisy, disruptive work is not done over the weekend.

  • They can ask you to put the property back to the way it was before the work was carried out, if the adaptation has reduced its value or made it harder to sell or rent out.

Again, these conditions cannot be unreasonable.

What if my landlord says no?

If your landlord refuses you permission to make the adaptations, you can try using the disability conciliation service operated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which can help you reach a satisfactory agreement with your landlord - contact the EHRC to find out more. This will be cheaper, faster and less stressful than taking your case to court. However, because you only have a short time to take your landlord to court you'll need to think about lodging an appeal at the same time.

How do I appeal?

If you think the council or housing association has been unreasonable, you can ask the sheriff court to look at their decision and order them to change it. You'll need to do this within 21 days of receiving your landlord's decision. This isn't a long time, so if you receive a refusal letter, get in touch with a solicitor or an adviser at Citizens Advice as soon as possible for further advice on this. The EHRC may also be able to help - call their helpline to find out more.

The sheriff can order your landlord to consent to the adaptations, or withdraw a condition from their consent. In deciding whether it was reasonable for your landlord to refuse permission or attach a condition to their consent, the sheriff must take into account:

  • the safety of anybody living in the property and any other properties nearby

  • any expenditure the landlord is likely to incur as a result of the work

  • whether the work will reduce the value of the property or make it harder to sell or rent again

  • any effect the work will have on the size of the home or the number of people who can live there

  • information laid out in the EHRC's Code of Practice.

Can I get help to appeal?

If you decide to appeal, get in touch with an adviser at a law centre or disability rights agency as soon as possible.

Can I get compensations for any improvements I make?

If your landlord considers the work you've carried out to be an improvement to the property, you should get some compensation when you move out, which may cover the cost of the work. Qualifying improvements include a new or replacement:

  • bath or shower

  • heating system

  • wash hand basin

  • toilet

  • kitchen work surfaces.

To find out more:

Extra funding for housing associations

Each year, housing associations receive funding from the Scottish Government's housing agency to pay for adaptations to their properties to make them more suitable for disabled people. This is called Stage 3 funding. If you think that you could benefit from adaptations, you should ask your occupational therapist to write a report detailing exactly what you need to make your home more accessible. Your landlord will need this report to decide if they can spend the money on your home.

Your landlord only gets a certain amount of Stage 3 funding each year, so you may have to wait for the adaptations to be done. Ask your landlord for more information about this.

If you need housing advice, contact us for free.

Last updated: 6 April 2017

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