Government provides funding for the private rented sector!
Dave Eldridge, Regional Development Manager at Foundations, explains the Disabled Facilities Grant.
More ‘fake news’, perhaps? Not in this case! Any tenant who is disabled, including tenants of private landlords, can apply to their local council for a grant called a Disabled Facilities Grant (often referred to as a DFG) to help meet the cost of adaptations which are necessary to help them live more independently. (Council tenants can also apply, but the source of funding is slightly different.)
Typically, Disabled Facilities Grants are used to improve access to or within the property or to make it easier for a disabled person to use the bathroom or toilet by, for example, proving a level access shower. (Councils also have a separate pot of money to meet the cost of minor adaptations such as a grab rail.) The basic rules about what a DFG can be used for are laid down by the government, but most local councils have also introduced a range of discretionary grants to complement the statutory grant system. Any disabled person who might need adaptations to their home to help them to continue to live independently at home can ask their local council for assistance. The council will assess their needs to determine what adaptations are necessary. These assessments are often carried out by an occupational therapist.
So how does this apply to tenants of private landlords? As with any alteration to a tenant’s home, the tenant’s landlord will need to give permission for the work to be carried out. DFGs are means-tested, but the means-test applies to the tenant, not to the landlord, and for minor adaptations (anything under £1,000) there is no means test. DFGs are provided to avoid the need for a disabled person to have to move somewhere else simply because of their disability, so the local council will want to confirm that they are not intending to move and their landlord will need to confirm that they intend to continue to let the property for the next five years (though it is recognised that there may be circumstances where this is not possible). Typical adaptations such as providing a level access shower instead of a bath are completed within three to four days, with the tenant remaining in occupation whilst the works are carried out and there is no loss of rental income.
And what about the effect on relets when there is a change of tenant? Increasingly adaptations such as a level access shower will make the property more lettable, not less, as the bathroom will be suitable for all tenants, not just those with a disability. Whilst in the past accessible bathrooms may have seemed rather clinical, this is far from the case with today’s accessible bathrooms, with a wide range of fittings and finishes to create an attractive bathroom which may actually enhance the property’s attraction to potential tenants. Some council’s will also offer discretionary grants specifically aimed at private landlords. In some areas these may meet the cost of reinstatement where, for example, a stairlift is no longer required, especially where a stairlift can be recycled to meet the needs of another disabled person.
Want more information? Foundations, the national body for local adaptations services can provide more advice. You can contact them by e-mailing email@example.com or contact the NLA for more information. You can also listen to the NLA podcast on accessibility, now available on Soundcloud and iTunes.