Schedule 4: Premises: reasonable adjustments
761.This Schedule explains how the duty to make reasonable adjustments in section 20 applies to a controller of “let” premises or of premises “to let” and to the commonhold association where a disabled tenant (or prospective tenant) or unit-holder in commonhold land or the disabled person legally occupying the property is placed at a substantial disadvantage, so that the disabled person can enjoy the premises or make use of them. It stipulates that the duty does not require the removal or alteration of a physical feature, and makes clear what are not “physical features” for these purposes. The duty only applies if a request for an adjustment is made by or on behalf of a disabled person.
762.This Schedule also explains how the duty to make reasonable adjustments in section 20 applies in relation to “common parts”, for example an entrance hall in a block of flats. These provisions relate specifically to physical features and set out the process that must be followed by the person responsible for the common parts (for example in England and Wales either a landlord or, in the case of commonhold land, the commonhold association) if a disabled tenant or someone on his or her behalf requests an adjustment. This includes a consultation process with others affected which must be carried out within a reasonable period of the request being made. If the responsible person decides to make an adjustment to avoid the disadvantage to the disabled person, a written agreement must be entered into between them setting out their rights and responsibilities. Section 37 provides the corresponding process for common parts in Scotland.
763.The Schedule also makes it unlawful for a controller or responsible person to victimise a disabled tenant because costs have been incurred in making a reasonable adjustment.
764.This Schedule partly replaces similar provisions in the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. However, the Act introduces a new requirement for disability-related alterations to the physical features of the common parts of let residential premises or premises owned on a commonhold basis.
A landlord has a normal practice of notifying all tenants of any rent arrears in writing with a follow-up visit if the arrears are not reduced. A learning- disabled person explains to the landlord that he cannot read standard English so would not be aware that he was in arrears. He asks to be notified of any arrears in person or by telephone. The landlord arranges to visit or telephone the learning-disabled person to explain when he has any arrears of rent. This personal contact may be a reasonable adjustment for the landlord to make.
A landlord is asked by a disabled tenant to install a ramp to give her easier access to the communal entrance door. The landlord must consult all people he thinks would be affected by the ramp and, if he believes that it is reasonable to provide it, he must enter into a written agreement with the disabled person setting out matters such as responsibility for payment for the ramp. The landlord can insist the tenant pays for the cost of making the alteration.