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Explanatory Memorandum to Disability Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 2006

Article 14: Discrimination in relation to the letting of premises

40.Disabled people are already protected against some forms of discrimination in relation to premises.  It is unlawful for persons who are selling or letting premises to discriminate against a disabled person in the way they offer to dispose of the premises to the disabled person, by refusing to offer to dispose of the premises to the disabled person, in their treatment of the disabled person in relation to any waiting list for the premises, or in the way they permit the disabled person to use any benefits or facilities, or by evicting the disabled person or subjecting him to any other detriment.

41.Article 14 will make it unlawful for landlords and managers, in relation to premises they wish to let or that are let, to discriminate against a disabled tenant or prospective tenant by failing without justification to comply with a duty to provide a reasonable adjustment for the disabled person.  The letting of commercial and residential premises is covered.  “Letting” is defined widely.

42.The new provisions will require a landlord or manager to take reasonable steps to change a policy, practice or procedure which makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for:

  • a disabled person to take a letting of the premises, or

  • (where there was a letting already in existence) a disabled tenant - or other disabled person lawfully occupying the premises - to enjoy the premises or use a benefit or facility conferred with the lease, so that the policy, practice or procedure concerned no longer had that effect.

43.The provisions will also require a landlord or manager to take reasonable steps to provide an auxiliary aid or service which would either enable or facilitate a disabled person’s enjoyment of the premises or use of a benefit or facility conferred with the letting, or (as the case may be) enable or make it easier for a disabled person to take a letting of a premises.  This duty would apply if, were the auxiliary aid or service not provided, it would be impossible or unreasonably difficult for a disabled person or occupier to enjoy the premises, to make use of any benefit or facility they were entitled to or (as the case may be) to take a letting.  For example, a landlord or manager may need to put correspondence in large print for a visually impaired person.

44.These duties will not require the making of any alteration to the physical features of a premise. However, if the terms of the letting are modified so as to permit an alteration with the landlord’s consent, then the provisions of Article 16 would apply. A landlord would not have to take any steps under the new provisions unless requested to do so by the tenant or prospective tenant. There is an exemption in respect of small dwellings. In limited circumstances, a landlord or manager may justify less favourable treatment or a failure to take reasonable steps.

45.The Article confers power on the Department to make supplementary provisions by regulations, for example to prescribe what steps it is reasonable for a landlord to have to take, or as to what constitutes an auxiliary aid or physical feature.

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