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.
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 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:
special taps or door handles
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:
an occupational therapist (OT), sometimes called a community OT
an OT assistant
a trusted assessor
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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
If the total cost is above £1,000, you might need to apply for a grant. These are usually for major adaptations, like:
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
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
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.
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 Care and Repair groups or Home Improvement Agencies (HIA) support older and disabled people to stay in safe housing that meets their needs. They can support you to find local schemes and grants to help with the cost of adaptations.
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.