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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Adapting your home

If you have a physical illness or disability you may need some alterations carried out to your home to help you get around.  If you’re a private tenant, you’ll need to get your landlord’s permission to alter the property in any way.

Alterations could range from the relatively small, like a ramp or a handrail, through to larger adaptations such as putting in a downstairs toilet.

Housing Executive and housing association tenants

If you rent your home from the Housing Executive or a housing association you should tell your local office if you’re having problems managing day to day tasks in your home. If you have a social worker they may be able to contact your landlord on your behalf.

Your landlord should be able to sort out smaller adaptations fairly quickly.  These could include

  • installing handrails at your front or rear entrance
  • moving your coal bunker
  • widening your garden path or paving areas to accommodate your wheelchair or walking aid
  • installing outdoor lighting for you if you have a visual or mobility problem
  • changing your door handles to lever handles
  • lowering yale locks, your cooker mains switch, sockets or lighting switches to more convenient levels
  • replacing your kitchen or bathroom taps with lever taps

Larger or more complicated adaptations will only be carried out on the recommendation of an Occupational Therapist. Your landlord should refer you to an Occupational Therapist (OT).  This therapist will visit to see how you are coping in your home.  If the therapist thinks you need certain adaptations carried out he or she will tell your landlord.

If the OT recommends major adaptations your landlord will visit your home.  Your landlord will decide if it makes more sense to move you into a more appropriate property or to adapt your current home.  If the landlord decides to adapt your property a designer will draw up plans which you and the OT will review to make sure the adaptation is suitable. A contractor will carry out the work.  Once the work is finished the OT will visit to show you how to use any new equipment that has been installed

Private tenants

The Disability Discrimination Act says that landlord must make reasonable adjustments to accommodate tenants with a disability.  Your landlord should take reasonable steps to alter the property to make it suitable for your disability but the landlord can refuse to do this if

  • the alteration is likely to make the property more difficult to let in the future
  • the work will be too expensive to carry out or
  • the work is likely to reduce the value of the property. 

If you're concerned that your landlord is refusing to make reasonable adjustments for you, you could contact the Equality Commission or Housing Rights

Private tenants who need more substantial adaptations carried out can apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant but will need to get their landlord's permission before the grant will be approved. 

Homeowners

If you own your home and need significant adaptations carried out to make the property more suitable for someone with a disability, you can apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant.

Help from the Family Fund

The Family Fund is a charity that can provide small grants to help families who have a child or children with disabilities.  If you need some financial help to make your home more suitable because your child has a disability, you should apply to see if you can get any help from this fund