Under Section 20 of the Equality Act 2010, the landlord must take reasonable steps to avoid any provision, criterion or practice, or any physical feature which puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with persons who are not disabled. In addition, reasonable steps must be taken to provide any auxiliary aid necessary to ensure that a disabled person is not at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with persons who are not disabled.
In practice, once a landlord becomes aware of a tenant’s disability, the key obligations placed on landlords are:
- to change policy or practice, including the terms of the tenancy agreement; and
- to provide additional aids or services.
Under Section 20 of the Equality Act 2010, a landlord may be required to make changes to any policies or practices they have which disadvantage a tenant because of their disability. This includes changing a term of a tenancy agreement. For example, a term saying pets are not allowed in the property could be changed to allow a disabled person to have an assistance dog.
Where a tenant requires ‘auxiliary aids and services’ to rent or live in the property, these may have to be provided. An example may be supplying a tenant with a copy of their tenancy agreement in a format that is more suited to their needs, such as easy read or braille.
However, landlords will not usually have an obligation to make structural changes which would substantially and permanently alter the property. For example, there is no obligation to remove walls, widen doorways or install permanent ramps, or to carry out any change that would alter the physical features of the property.
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