Getting home adaptations

If you need adaptations to your home to live more independently, you might get these from:

  • your local authority
  • your housing association
  • the NHS

These adaptations can be to your own home or one you rent.

Factsheets on adapting the home by Disabled Living Foundation (DLF)

Going through your local authority

Local authorities are usually responsible for home adaptations. Each local authority will have a team for home adaptations and assessments. How they work will vary, from how long you will have to wait to how much funding is available. Adaptations can improve the quality of your life so ask for an assessment with an Occupational Therapist (OT) as soon as possible.

Adaptations from your housing association

Your housing association might manage applications for adaptations instead of the local authority. This means the local authority has agreed to fund the housing association to do everything, from the occupational therapy (OT) assessment to hiring people to do the work.

To find out who deals with home adaptations, contact your local council (GOV.UK).

Getting adaptations through the NHS

You usually only get NHS adaptations and equipment if you need something urgently. This might be to make sure your house is safe and accessible so you can either:

  • be discharged from hospital
  • avoid going to hospital

These will be minor adaptations like grab rails or temporary ramps.

Asking for an assessment

Usually the first step for applying for home adaptations is to get an assessment from your local authority. This can take time. Speak to your local authority or social worker as soon as you can.

You have a right to a free assessment by the local authority. They have a duty of care under the Care Act 2014 (GOV.UK) to assess someone for support they might need.

Find your local authority to apply for equipment (GOV.UK)

Apply for a social care needs assessment (GOV.UK)

If your housing association is responsible for home adaptations, they will organise the assessment.

Contacting your local authority

Some home adaptation information can be hard to find. Look for a section of your local authority's website that talks about 'housing' or 'disabled people'. Some pages might be called 'help to stay in the home' or 'care assessments and housing adaptation'.

Sometimes it's not clear who you should contact. If you're not sure, contact your local authority's general number or email address. They can tell you who to contact or refer you to the correct department. It can help to ask for the Community Occupational Therapy office.

Private Occupational Therapist (OT) assessments

If your local authority has a long wait list for assessments and you plan to pay for adaptations yourself, you might want to pay for a private OT assessment too.

Your local authority or Home Improvement Agency may be able to recommend an OT service.

If you decide to have an OT report from another service or the NHS, check your housing provider will accept this.

Find a private OT (Royal College of Occupational Therapists)

Getting adaptations without an assessment

If you know what adaptations you need or the adaptations are urgent, some housing providers will make minor adaptations without an assessment.

These might be things like:

  • grab rails
  • special taps or door handles
  • bath boards

But it can help to get an assessment to find out:

  • any additional adaptations that will help
  • the right place and height for some adaptations, like grab rails

What happens at an assessment

Depending on your needs and your local authority or housing association, one of the following people might do the assessment:

They come to your home to talk to you about your needs and discuss possible adaptations and equipment with you. They may be able to tell you their recommendations during the assessment or they might need more time to explore what will work for you.

Warning Changes to the system

The system for home aids and adaptations is under review and there may be some changes.

Who you'll see will depend on your needs and the type of aids and adaptations that will help you.

Adaptations review report November 2018 (pdf)

Assessment reports

The assessor then writes a report recommending adaptations and equipment. They will send this to you and anyone else involved. If you're a tenant, this might be your:

  • private landlord
  • housing association
  • council housing office

It can help to involve your housing provider when you ask for an assessment. They will be able to tell you who to send the report to.

If you have an OT report from another service or the NHS, check with your housing provider if they will accept this. Some housing associations and private landlords, for example, will not accept an NHS report for an adaptations application.

Getting a second opinion

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.

Getting permission for adaptations

You must always get permission from your housing provider for adaptations. If you're a homeowner of a leasehold property, you might need to get permission from the freeholder. Check your contract for this information.

You can ask for permission either when:

  • you decide to ask for an assessment
  • you have an assessment report and you know what aids and adaptations you need

Warning

Do not make changes without permission

Make sure you have formal permission confirming you can adapt the property.

If you're applying for Disabled Facilities Grant, you will need to show you have permission from the owner.

If you make changes without permission, you may have to reverse what you've done or you could get fined.

Your landlord could even take legal action or try to evict you for breaking your tenancy agreement.

Even with an assessment report, your landlord or housing provider does not have to agree to the adaptations. Housing associations and councils will look for the most cost-effective way of meeting your needs.

For example, your housing association might decide that adapting the property is not the most cost-effective way to meet your needs. They might put you on a waiting list for an adapted property instead.

Housing association and council properties

Housing providers will have different policies about what they can do. They might look at:

  • age of the property
  • structure of the property
  • practicality of the adaptation
  • priority of each case

If they cannot adapt your home, they should find you alternative accommodation that can meet your needs or that can be adapted. This may take a long time, depending on waiting lists.

Private landlords

You will need permission from your landlord to carry out any adaptations in your home. You might want to get an assessment from your local authority first to find out what you need before approaching your landlord.

Your landlord does not have to pay for adaptations to the property.

Warning

Landlords do not have to make physical changes

Reasonable adjustments can be applied to the tenancy agreement or 'auxiliary aids', such as replacing taps or the door entry system, but not physical features.

Your landlord does not have to agree to physical changes to the property.

While your landlord cannot refuse permission unreasonably, they can consider things like:

  • the length of your tenancy
  • how much work is needed
  • if they need planning permission or freeholder consent

They must give reasons for refusing. This is often that adaptations would damage the building or devalue it in some way. They can then argue that the adaptations are not reasonable.

Asking for adjustments (Citizens Advice)

Temporary adaptations

Depending on the type of support you need, you could look at temporary aids and adaptations. You can take these to every home you move to. They might be things like:

  • tap turners or door knob turners
  • temporary grab handles
  • a bath board or seat

This can be helpful if your landlord or housing provider will not agree to the adaptations you need.

Try the following websites for advice on equipment

Ask Sara (Disabled Living Foundation)

Living made easy

Which? guide to home adaptations

Funding for adaptations and equipment

Who funds the adaptation will depend on:

  • the total cost
  • if the local authority or housing provider will cover the cost for minor adaptations
  • if you're eligible for a grant to pay for the adaptation

Funding and grants for home adaptation

Funding to adapt your home (Money Advice Service)

Apply for equipment for your home (GOV.UK)

Minor adaptations

If the total cost is under £1,000, the local authority may pay for the adaptations. But this will depend on your local authority and their available budget. If they do cover the costs, this will not be means-tested (based on income).

Warning

Ask about small grants

If you need a small adaptation, ask the local authority if they can fund it. Sometimes local authorities will pay for smaller adaptations if you ask.

Ask about small grants even if:

  • you cannot find information about small grants on your local authority's website
  • your local authority gives you information about how to pay for small adaptations yourself

Some local authorities might offer an interest free loan to help you cover the costs if they do not fund minor adaptations.

Some housing associations or councils might cover minor adaptation costs for their properties. Ask your housing provider for their policy on home adaptations.

Major adaptations

If the total cost is above £1,000, you might need to apply for a grant. These are usually for major adaptations, like:

  • a wet room
  • widening doorways

Check for grants

Grants might include:

Disabled Facilities Grant (GOV.UK), also known as DFG. DFG for adults is based on your income and you are usually expected to stay in the property for the “term of the grant”.

Independence at Home is a charity that gives grants to disabled people or people with a long-term illness who need financial help.

Charities supporting people with specific conditions and impairments might also offer grants.

Adapting the property

Housing associations

Once you have funding, the housing association will usually sort everything out. This might include:

  • a surveyor to come to your home
  • employing people to do the adaptations
  • finding you a place to stay if you have to move out during the work

Council housing

How much support you get from your council will depend on their policy.

Some councils will go through the process with you from OT assessment and financial assessment through to the completed work.

Once you have agreed the adaptations and you have the funding, some councils might ask you to get quotes, usually from a list of their preferred providers, and oversee all the work yourself.

Homeowners

Your local authority may help you adapt your property or they might expect you to project manage everything yourself. What support you get will vary between local authorities and will depend on your abilities.

There are support services, such as Home Improvement Agencies, that can help you with the process of adapting your property.

Local support

Local Care and Repair groups or Home Improvement Agencies (HIA) support older and disabled people to stay in safe and appropriate housing. They can support you to find local schemes and grants to help with the cost of adaptations.

They may also help with:

  • applying for DFG and other grants
  • planning the work
  • getting quotes and employing tradespeople
  • giving you lists of trusted tradespeople

HIAs and how to find your local agency (findmyhia.org.uk)

Care and Repair England

Care and Repair Cymru

Advocacy

Getting support and knowing your rights to adaptations can be difficult. An advocate may be able to help support you.

Advocacy and links to organisations (Disability Rights UK)

Complaining

If you're having trouble getting what you need, you can complain. It can help to find out why your request has been declined or changed to something different than you expected.

To complain you could try:

If your complaint is not being dealt with, social media may also help get your complaint heard. But complaining publicly could affect your relationship with the local authority or housing provider. It's important to check why there's a problem and what the barriers are before complaining on social media.

Housing associations managing the process for the local authority

Tenants will need to contact the housing association about any problems during the process and follow their complaint procedure.

If the housing association is not providing what you need or has not given you alternative suitable accommodation, you can complain to your local authority.

The local authority has a duty of care and is responsible for making sure the housing association follows the agreement.

Last reviewed by Scope on: 20/11/2019

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