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PainSmith Solicitors Legal Update 10 July 2006

Implementation of The Disability Discrimination Act 2005

The Statutory Instruments implementing the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 (DDA) in respect of rented accommodation have now been laid before Parliament. The Disability Discrimination (Premises) Regulations 2006 confirm that these provisions will come into force as from 4 December 2006 and provide further clarification of how the Act will be implemented in respect of residential premises.

As has been discussed in previous updates the DDA will change the onus for making adjustments and move it more fully onto the shoulders of the landlord. The tenant will now be entitled to request adjustments to the Premises or to working practices and it will be for the landlord to:

  • demonstrate that such requests are unreasonable; and

  • bear the financial burden of the adjustments being made.

The Regulations clarify the position over the nature of requests that can be made. As previously discussed (see update dated 07 October 2005) physical alterations to the premises or to its fixtures and fittings are not reasonable. It is also unreasonable to request any alterations that would cause the addition of something that would become a fixture once it as added. Therefore, grab handles in bathrooms would not be reasonable as they would become a fixture once they ere installed. However, any request to alter door handles, doorbells, taps, or the colour of surfaces will be considered reasonable. Requests for alterations to furniture or other removable items or for alterations to working practices also continue to be reasonable.

In circumstances where the lease specifically prohibits an adjustment it will be reasonable for the landlord to have to make changes to terms in a tenancy agreement to allow for the landlord or tenant to make those adjustments here they would permit the disabled person to make use of a facility or service. In altering terms the landlord may impose reasonable conditions such as a requirement for the disabled person to restore the premises at the end of the tenancy. Where a landlord's head lease prevents alterations the landlord must make reasonable efforts to have that head lease altered.

Surprisingly the Regulations authorise discrimination against disabled persons over the matter of deposits (Regulation 3). They allow a landlord to withhold portions of a disabled persons deposit here they have caused damage to the property due to the nature of their disability and that damage is beyond the level at which the landlord would normally withhold monies. As always the amount withheld must be fair and reasonable in all the circumstances.

If you require further information, the regulations are available in full at http:// .opsi.gov.uk/si/si2006/20060887.htm.

Dr David Smith is a trainee solicitor with PainSmith Solicitors, a niche practice specialising in residential landlord and tenant law. He can be contacted on 01420 565310 or by email at david@painsmith.co.uk. If you wish to subscribe to the free legal updates service then you should email update@painsmith.co.uk with the phrase "subscribe updates" in the subject of the email.

PainSmith Solicitors Legal Updates are provided for information only and are not legal advice. If you do have a legal problem, you should talk to a lawyer or adviser before making a decision about what to do. You may wish to use the CLS/CDS Directory (www.justask.org.uk/public/en/directory) to locate an adviser. The information provided here is written for people resident in, or affected by, the laws of England and Wales only. You should note that date given in the update and be aware that the information given may become inaccurate due to changes in the law or its implementation.

PainSmith Solicitors

* PainSmith Solicitors are a niche practice specialising in Landlord and Tenant Law. Based in Medstead in Hampshire, they are ideally situated to provide an efficient service to clients nationwide as well as those based in Central London and the Home Counties.

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