Helpful Tips Alexandra Williams 17/09/2021

FAQs on property adaptations

There is a growing demand for adapted properties. With an ageing population, and an increased share of total housing stock, private landlords need to be ready to cater for a wider range of needs than they traditionally have. 

The NRLA launched its  adaptations campaign to raise awareness and to assist landlords in adapting properties. This included the release of our guidance for landlords that can support landlords in better managing tenant requests for home adaptations.  

Last month, the NRLA hosted a webinar with a panel of experts on adapting properties, with many of the questions answered useful to other landlords who may be considering adapting properties. 

Frequently Asked Questions:  

What is a DFG? 

The Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG), is a means-tested grant administered by local authorities. It can meet the cost of works, usually from £1,000, up to a maximum of £30,000 in England and £36,000 in Wales. DFGs are means-tested on the tenant’s household income (for major adaptations only in Wales), and the average grant is less than £10,000.  

Who applies for DFGs?  

DFGs are available for more expensive adaptations, such as stairlifts, ramps or widening doorways. To apply for a DFG someone living in the property must be disabled. They are available to existing tenants or for those who have signed up to a property and will be moving in, so it is possible for tenants to apply in advance. A landlord can also choose to apply for a DFG on behalf of their tenant. Additionally, landlords can be involved in the process – such as design – if they want to be. 

Are there any grants available to landlords to adapt properties? 

Local authorities have a range of discretionary grants available which can be for more minor adaptations, usually under £1,000 but some local authorities have a higher threshold. These grants are usually not means-tested but will be based on the tenant’s needs.  

Some local authorities may also have grants specifically for the private rented sector. 

We would recommend asking your local authority to see if they have any funding available for landlords to adapt properties.  

Can a tenant force adaptations? 

No, like other changes to the property, you as the owner are entitled to decline. However, landlords have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 not to discriminate against tenants on the basis of disability or age, and you should consider each request on a case-by-case basis. 

As the landlord, your key responsibility lies in providing permission for the adaptation to be made. It’s worth keeping in mind when giving permission that many adaptations can be done without any permanent changes to the property. 

In the event of major adaptation rendering the property uninhabitable during the works, does the grant extend to cover loss of rent?  

DFGs do not cover loss of rent as they only cover the adaptations work. However, it is rare for a property to become uninhabitable during adaptations work – most adaptations are minor and only in rare cases will major adaptations make a property uninhabitable.  

If the property is uninhabitable, the local council may be able to assist with arranging temporary accommodation, including providing funding, so it’s worth discussing this with them. 

Should I keep the adaptations at the end of tenancy? 

If you keep the adaptations, you can let your property out to another tenant who needs them. The demand for adapted properties outstrips the properties available. Local authorities and specialist agents may also be able to help source tenants looking for adapted properties. 

Even if your next tenant isn’t disabled or older, you may not want to remove them as many adaptations are intended to look modern and aesthetically pleasing, and some – such as wet rooms - actually make properties more desirable for letting. 

What happens if I want the adaptations removed at the end of the tenancy?  

When you give consent for the installation of adaptions, you should also agree who covers the cost of removal at the end of the tenancy. We advise that when agreeing for the property to be adapted, that landlords put in writing and agree with all parties who is responsible for restoring the property to its original condition. 

While there is no automatic grant to reinstate the property back to its original condition, some local authorities will offer reinstatement grants as part of their discretionary grants that landlords can access. It’s always worth asking your local authority!  

Further information 

You can watch our webinar on adapting properties here. 

Learn more about the NRLA campaign on adaptations and download our landlord guide here. 

We’re always keen to hear from our members about their stories. If you have any experiences with adapting properties please email campaigns@nrla.org.uk