It can be a slow process and you may not get the adaptation you want. The local authority or housing association will base their decision on many things, including:
if the adaptation will meet your needs
if it’s for short-term recovery or to support you in the long term
the cost of the adaptation and if it’s practical
the age and condition of the property
who owns the property
the length of your tenancy
if you rent your financial situation (means-testing)
How your local authority decides
Your local authority will organise for an occupational therapist (OT) or professional to assess your needs and home. They will start by thinking about the smallest change that could make the biggest difference. They make their recommendations based on what they believe is ‘necessary and appropriate’.
For example, if you ask for an extension to your home for a downstairs bathroom. The OT may feel that a handrail or stairlift is more appropriate to help you get to the bathroom upstairs.
The OT sends their report to the adaptations team at your local authority. The local authority will look at whether the adaptation is ‘reasonable and practical’. This means they look at things like:
the age and condition of your home
if the adaptation will affect other residents
if it’s cost-effective
For example, they may not be able to get permission to make a major adaptation if you live in a listed building. They may suggest helping you move to another property.
If you’re a tenant, you will also need permission from your landlord. If you have a short-term tenancy, you’ll need a certificate or statement to say that you plan to stay in the property for the next 5 years.
If you do not agree with your local authority's OT report, you could get a private OT assessment for a second opinion. But this can be expensive and there's no guarantee that the private report will help support your dispute. Your local authority does not have to consider it.
Every local authority and housing association has their own process for complaining. Check if they have a dedicated appeals process for home adaptation application decisions. You could search on their website for:
‘home adaptations appeals process’
‘Disabled Facilities Grants appeals process’
If not, raise a complaint using their standard complaints process.
You may need to follow the process through to the end. It can be a long process.
An ombudsman is someone who has been appointed to look into complaints about companies and organisations.
If there are long delays when you follow the complaints process, you could contact the ombudsman to get advice. You should also let them know if the local authority does not follow their own complaints process.