Getting home adaptations

This information applies to England and Wales.

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 a rental property.

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.

You can apply for adaptations from your local authority if you’re a tenant or an owner-occupier.

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 authority (GOV.UK).

Getting adaptations through the NHS

Usually you get NHS adaptations and equipment only 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. Some community NHS services can make recommendations for small non-urgent adaptations, but larger adaptations tend to go through your local authority.

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.

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

Home adaptations and occupational therapist assessments

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

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.

Asking your landlord for home adaptations

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 these websites for advice on equipment:

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

Disability grants for home adaptations

Funding to adapt your home for accessibility (MoneyHelper)

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

Grants might include:

Disabled Facilities Grant (GOV.UK) is based on your income. You can apply for the Disabled Facilities Grant if you’re a tenant, landlord or owner-occupier. 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.

Finding and applying for funds and 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.

Temporary housing during home adaptations

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)

Disagreeing with a decision

If your local authority rejects your application, they should explain why. They should include the options available to you, like moving to an accessible or adapted property.

Ask for copies of any reports and notes from meetings when they made their decision.

If you disagree with the decision, there are things you can do to challenge it.

Gather evidence

It can help to make a clear case for why you feel the decision is unsuitable. Think about the points they’ve raised and try:

  • going back to your OT, social worker or healthcare professional for support
  • showing what equipment or changes you’ve tried in the past
  • getting support from an advocate or organisation to help you make your case It can also help to keep letters, emails, documents and records of conversations about the adaptations.

Get support from Citizens Advice

Get 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. Your local authority does not have to consider it.

Find a qualified OT through the Royal College of Occupational Therapists.

Follow the complaints process

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’

You could also 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.

Find your local authority’s complaints process (GOV.UK)

Tips for challenging a local authority decision (Which?)

Contacting the ombudsman

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.

Contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman in England.

Contact the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

Other organisations that can help

You can also get support from specialist organisations that focus on housing, health and social care.

Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs)

HIAs are not-for-profit organisations run by housing associations, local authorities and charities in England. They provide impartial advice and home adaptations.

Find My HIA

Healthwatch

In England, Healthwatch is the independent national champion for people who use health and social care services. They can give you advice and help you make a complaint.

Healthwatch

Community Health Councils in Wales

These councils are independent and aim to improve the quality of local health services throughout Wales.

Community Health Councils in Wales

Social Care Wales

Social Care Wales works with people who use care and support services and organisations to make improvements in social care in Wales.

Social Care Wales

Last reviewed by Scope on: 13/02/2023

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