Does a Landlord Have to Adapt a Rental Property to Meet a Tenant’s Needs?
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The reality is that people increasingly cannot afford to buy a property in London or the surrounding areas. That means tenants come from a wide range of backgrounds, age groups and needs. UK employers are used to have to make reasonable adaptations in the work place but what does the law say if a tenant asks their landlord to make adaptions to a rental property to meet their age-related or disability needs.
In this article Nollienne Alparaque , head of the landlord and tenant department at OTS Solicitors, looks at a landlord’s obligations towards their tenants as although landlords would obviously like to meet their tenant’s needs the provision of adaptations can come at a cost to the landlord and once the tenancy agreement has ended future prospective tenants may be put off from renting the property because of its specific adaptations.
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Can a landlord be forced to adapt their property for an existing tenant?
A landlord cannot be forced into making changes to their property to meet the specific needs of an existing tenant although a landlord is, of course, under an obligation to maintain and repair their property. Nor is a landlord obliged to agree to a tenant paying for adaptations to the property and making the changes themselves. For example, ramp access or wet room or bathroom aides.
Although a landlord is not under an obligation to adapt their property to meet the needs of an ageing or disabled tenant, a landlord must comply with the Equality Act 2010. This means a landlord should not discriminate against a tenant because of their age or disability. If a landlord has a property portfolio, they should consider requests for adaptations on an individual basis rather than impose a blanket ban.
Landlord and tenant solicitors recommend that landlords take a pragmatic approach rather than looking at the letter of the law that allows them to refuse to agree to adaptations. That’s because by refusing to agree to adaptations the landlord may lose a good tenant who may be less likely to want to terminate the tenancy because of a change of job or new relationship.
The fact that a landlord says yes to one adaptation does not mean that a landlord will have to agree to subsequent adaptation requests by the tenant.
Can a landlord be forced to adapt their property for a new tenant?
A new tenant cannot require a prospective landlord to make adaptations to a property but , just like with an existing tenant, a landlord must not discriminate on the basis of age or disability. Whilst landlords are often sympathetic to tenant’s needs, the reality is that if a property is adapted to meet a specific tenant’s requirements this may mean that a landlord will not end up with a series of six month or twelve-month tenancy agreements because the tenant is unlikely to want to go through the hassle of moving again.
Can a tenant end their tenancy agreement early if a landlord refuses to make adaptations?
A tenant cannot end a tenancy agreement early if a landlord is not willing to accommodate a request for adaptations although a landlord can voluntarily agree to the tenancy agreement ending early without the tenant being obliged to pay rent to the end of the tenancy.
Can a tenant make their own adaptations to a rented property?
Some adaptations may not require the permission of a landlord, for example, a ramp that is not physically attached to the property. Other adaptations can be made by the tenant with the landlord’s permission but the agreement should be in writing and the landlord should make it clear whether, at the end of the tenancy agreement, the tenant will be expected to remove the adaptation and make good any damage. Without clear agreement there is a risk of a deposit dispute at the end of the tenancy agreement.
Can a landlord end a tenancy agreement if a tenant has breached the tenancy by making adaptations?
If an inspection by a landlord or letting agent reveals unauthorised adaptations made to a property the tenancy agreement will need to be checked to see if it provides for the tenancy to be ended in these circumstances. A landlord may be concerned that if the tenancy agreement is allowed to continue the tenant will continue to make unauthorised adaptations to the property and the tenant’s deposit will not cover the cost of removing the adaptations and making good any damage to walls and plasterwork.
Is there help for landlords to make adaptations to their property?
Whilst a landlord may be entirely sympathetic to the needs of a disabled or elderly tenant or prospective tenant, most landlords won't be in a position to pay for adaptations to their property to meet the needs of a tenant, especially in circumstances where a tenant could choose not to extend their tenancy agreement and the specific adaptations could then make it harder to find a new tenant to rent the property.
In some cases, it may be possible to get financial assistance for adaptations through the Disabled Facilities Grant. This is a means-tested grant provided by local authorities. A landlord can apply for a grant to pay for the cost of adaptations for an existing tenant or prospective tenant who is committed to a tenancy agreement. The adaptations can usually cost from £1,000 to a maximum of £30,000. A successful grant is subject to the tenant meeting the local authority means tested eligibility criteria. A tenant can also make an application.
Other local authorities provide other grants for minor adaptations so if a landlord is interested in putting in adaptations to help their tenant, then there may be financial help available.
Landlord and tenant solicitors say that whether financial help is available for adaptations or not the key point for landlords and tenants are:
- Tenants should check the terms of their tenancy agreement to see if their proposed adaptation will need the agreement of their landlord.
- Agreement to adaptations must be put in writing.
- The agreement to an adaptation should make it clear if the tenant is required to remove the adaptation and make good any damage at the end of the tenancy agreement.
UK Online and London Based Landlord and Tenant Solicitors
For advice on tenancy agreements, deposit disputes or on any aspect of landlord and tenant law call the expert London landlord and tenant lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.