Insights and Opinions Tim Thomas 06/12/2021

Blog: Making the PRS more accessible for disabled and older people

The NRLA is working in partnership with five local authorities to develop ways of increasing the supply of adapted properties in the Private Rented Sector (PRS). We are also looking to raise awareness of the advantages of improving accessibility for both tenants and landlords.

We are delighted that local authorities from Plymouth, Newcastle, Islington, Chorley – and more recently the City and County of Swansea – have joined our pilot scheme and have already made encouraging steps to engage with landlords.

Why have we set up this pilot scheme?

According to the English Housing Survey, not only are more older people aged over 65 accessing the PRS, but people in their mid-30s to mid-40s are three times more likely to rent than 20 years ago. A third of this age group were renting from a private landlord in 2017, compared with fewer than 1 in 10 in 1997. Many in this age group expect to privately rent for the rest of their lives.

Older tenants' demand for the PRS is only going to increase and landlords would be well advised to adapt to these changing demographics.  By meeting the needs of older and disabled renters, tenants are more likely to remain in their tenancies, there is the potential to add value to the property and landlords can appeal to a larger pool of tenants interested in renting the property.

Support for landlords

Our research has found 49% of landlords were willing to let to tenants who would require adaptations. This proportion rose to 68% when landlords were made aware of support – the research specified the Disabled Facilities Grant – which would assist in the cost of the installation of those adaptations. We have also produced guidance to raise awareness of the DFG and other funding opportunities, and help demystify some of the misconceptions about adapting properties.

Pilot authorities

The NRLA has developed a number of local pilots to raise awareness of the DFG, encourage landlords to adapt their properties and highlight best practice by working in partnership with the local authorities and Home Improvement Agencies.

Our pilot areas include diverse geographic areas across England and Wales, each with different challenges and methods in place to engage with landlords.  Some of these local authorities have very low levels of take up of the DFG from the PRS, but all recognise the importance of engaging with private landlords and improving access in the PRS.

We have had an initial meeting with each of the pilot authorities and collaboratively have outlined engagement and communication strategies with landlords operating in each area.

Over 2022, we will be engaging with landlords via local landlord forums, through our online survey and by promoting our guidance through various media channels.  We will also produce innovative videos, blogs, and opinion pieces to highlight the many advantages of adapting properties within the PRS.

We are looking for case studies from landlords who have experience of adaptations in their properties. You can share your story with us via our campaigns page.

Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas Campaigns and Public Affairs Officer

Tim Thomas is the Campaigns and Public Affairs Officer for the NRLA. With almost fifteen years’ experience in policy and research roles in local authorities and the third sector, Tim takes a leading role on our campaigns to improve access to the Private Rented Sector. Tim’s campaigns have included campaigns to tackle homelessness, supporting the Afghan resettlement programme and promoting adaptations to private rented accommodation for tenants who require them.

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