Aids and Adaptations Policy for Wealden District Council Housing Tenants
The purpose of this policy is to set out the Council’s approach to the provision of aids and adaptations in our homes. This provision is vital to support the wellbeing and independence of our disabled tenants, either in the continued occupancy of their own home of in another property that is suitably adapted or can be adapted to meet their needs.
This policy also aims to ensure consistency, clarity and fairness in our approach when dealing with requests for aids and adaptations in our homes.
- Provide a high quality aids and adaptations service to enable disabled occupants to live safely and independently in their own home.
- To provide an efficient and cost effective adaptations service making best use of the council housing stock, and the budget available.
- Assist those in need of adaptations to make informed choices about their housing options, facilitating transfers to more appropriate accommodation where required.
- Ensure that where possible vacant adapted properties are re-allocated to those who most need them.
The Equality Act defines a disabled person as someone who has a “physical or mental impairment”, and “the impairment has a substantial and long term adverse effect on (the person’s) ability to carry out normal day to day activities”. However the act does not require the Council as a landlord to make any changes which affect the structure or which would substantially and permanently alter the tenant’s home.
Under the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 (as amended), all owner occupies and tenants, including council and registered provider tenants, are eligible to apply for a disabled facilities grant (DFG) to assist in undertaking major adaptations to their home. Although the DFG framework and mandatory aspect of the grant applies across all tenures, funding for the provision of the adaptations to the Councils own housing stock is required to be made through the Housing Revenue Account (HRA).
A person is defined as “disabled” under the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 (as amended), and shall be used for the purposes of this policy, if:
- Their sight, hearing or speech is substantially impaired,
- They have a mental disorder or impairment of any kind,
- They are physically and substantially disabled by illness, injury and/or impairments that have been present since birth or otherwise,
as assessed by the Social Services Authority under the Care Act 2014 or the Children’s Act 1989.
Generally the impairment of the “disabled person” must have lasted or is likely to last for at least 12 months. Major adaptations will not normally be considered where the applicant is waiting for medical procedures which will improve their mobility until their expected recovery is complete.
For the purposes of this Policy applicants for adaptations must be:
a) a tenant of Wealden District Council
b) a partner of a council tenant
c) immediate family member
Be permanently resident at the property at which the aids and/or adaptions are sort, occupying it as their main residence.
Have a disability as defined above.
There are two types of assistance available
- Minor adaptations
- Major adaptations
Wealden District Council does not provide portable equipment. East Sussex County Council may be able to provide equipment through their Integrated Community Equipment Service.
Generally any adaptations will not be carried out prior to the commencement of any tenancy unless there are exceptional circumstances.
The Council will provide minor aids and adaptations up to a value of £1000 free of charge. These will include, but are not limited to:
- Lever taps
- Grab rails
- Half steps
- External lighting
- Mopstick handrails
- Small ramps
- Dementia friendly adaptations such as visual improvement measures, noise reduction measures and signage
Minor adaptations may also include the installation of recycled equipment including stairlifts and hoists to replace equipment which has reached the end of its life or is no longer working.
Whilst an occupational therapy assessment is not a requirement for a minor adaptation an Occupational Therapist (OT) maybe requested to advise on suitable design and positioning of the minor adaptation. Additionally if the applicant and their needs are not known to the Housing Service they may be requested to undergo an OT assessment in the first instance to ensure that any unmet needs are identified and consider the suitability of the home and the applicant’s long term needs.
Major adaptations are any adaptations which will cost over £1000 and will generally require more extensive and complex work and may include structural alterations to the property. Adaptations may include, but are not limited to, stairlifts, through floor lifts, level access showers, access alterations and kitchen alterations.
Wealden District Council operates a tenure neutral adaptations criteria. It therefore requires all applications for major adaptations, including those to its own homes to go through the formal mandatory Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) process as defined by the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 (as amended).
A DFG is available for the following purposes:
- facilitating access by the disabled occupant to and from the dwelling (including reasonable access to the garden)
- making the dwelling safe for the disabled person and other occupants
- facilitating access by the disabled occupant to a room used or usable as the principal family room
- facilitating access by the disabled occupant to, or providing for the disabled occupant, a room used or usable for sleeping
- facilitating access by the disabled occupant to, or providing for the disabled occupant, a room in which there is a lavatory, or facilitating the use by the disabled occupant of such a facility
- facilitating access by the disabled occupant to, or providing for the disabled occupant, a room in which there is a bath or shower (or both), or facilitating the use by the disabled occupant of such a facility
- facilitating access by the disabled occupant to, or providing for the disabled occupant, a room in which there is a wash hand basin, or facilitating the use by the disabled occupant of such a facility
- facilitating the preparation and cooking of food by the disabled occupant
- improving any heating system in the dwelling to meet the needs of the disabled occupant or, if there is no existing heating system or any such system is unsuitable for use by the disabled occupant, providing a heating system suitable to meet their needs
- facilitating the use by the disabled occupant of a source of power, light or heat by altering the position of one or more means of access to or control of that source or by providing additional means of control
- facilitating access and movement by the disabled occupant around the dwelling in order to enable them to care for a person who is normally resident there and is in need of such care
In accordance with the legislation any adaptations must be necessary and appropriate as recommended by the Occupational Therapy Service. In addition they must also be reasonable and practical as determined by the Council.
Necessary and Appropriate
Section 24 of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 places a duty on housing authorities who are not themselves a social services authority to consult with the relevant social services authority. Furthermore, an Occupational Therapist must undertake an assessment and make a professional recommendation of works that are considered necessary and appropriate for the
As part of a County Wide partnership two occupational therapists are currently seconded to Wealden District Council from East Sussex County Council. Applicants with an identified housing need from a Housing and Social Care Connect assessment may be referred to the in house team for assessment or have an assessment carried out within the social service environment.
Reasonable and practical
Section 24 of the 1996 Act also requires the local housing authority to be satisfied that it is reasonable and practicable to carry out the relevant works (as requested by an Occupational Therapist) having regard to the age and condition of the dwelling.
This reasonableness can relate to cost and includes where the works required are excessively costly due to the construction and type of property.
Consideration can also be given to offering alternative housing that meets the applicant’s needs, particularly long terms needs, or which can be adapted at a lower cost.
Long term Housing Needs
It is essential in administering aids and adaptions that the accommodation currently occupied is suitable, with aids and adaptations, for the applicant’s long term needs. Adapting the current dwelling may only provide a short term solution or only a partial solution and a move to alternative accommodation may be considered the most appropriate long term solution.
Moving can be a stressful experience and the Council’s Housing Solutions Officer works with residents to assist them finding and moving to housing suitable for their needs.
The most appropriate solution will aim to offer the best value for money whilst meeting the needs of the applicant.
Future occupation of the dwelling
As part of the DFG process the tenant must sign a tenant’s certificate of intended future occupation. This confirms that it is their intention to live at the property for a minimum period of 5 years following completion of the works, unless circumstances do not allow this (for example a deteriorating medical condition that means the property is no longer suitable).
The Housing Services Manager, acting as landlord of the dwelling, is required to give permission for the adaption works and sign a certificate of intended letting to confirm the intention to let the dwelling to the applicant for a period of 5 years.
In determining whether to give permission consideration can be given to:
- If alternative suitable accommodation is likely to become available within 12 months that would meet the applicants needs
- If the adaptation will have an impact on the property and its future use
- If the tenant is in breach of their tenancy agreement and action has been commenced to seek possession or take legal action.
- If the works are in communal areas whether they would cause a health and safety issue for other residents.
It is important that the Council as a landlord has consideration of these factors to ensure it makes the best use of its financial resources and stock whilst meeting the needs of the applicant.
Cost of Adaptations
The cost of the adaptations to the Council’s own housing stock is met from the Housing Revenue Account and is subject to budget availability. The upper cost limit or the works is set in line with the maximum award for a Disabled Facilities Grant, which is currently £30,000.
There may be an occasional situation where the works exceed £30,000, for example where an extension is recommended to create downstairs living, or where works will meet a particular need which otherwise cannot be met in the existing housing stock within a reasonable time period.
The cost of works in such an exceptional case is capped at £50,000 to include a discretionary top up in line with the Private Housing Financial Assistance policy for other DFG tenure applicants. This £20,000 top up is at the discretion of the decision by the Housing Management Team after consideration on a case by case basis.
It is to be noted that an extension will only be considered if:
- remodelling the existing layout is not feasible or financially viable,
- where rehousing is not considered appropriate,
- Where it provides a cost effective solution.
The creation of additional floor space/rooms may result in a rent increase which will be discussed with the tenant prior to agreement of the works.
DFG applicants are subject to a Test of Resources as calculated by the Housing Renewal Grants Regulations 1996 (as amended) which determines the applicant’s contribution to any eligible works.
Applicants in receipt of qualifying benefits or where the works are for the benefit of a child are not subject to the Test of Resources. Eligible benefits include:
• Universal Credit
• Income based job seekers allowance
• Income based employment and support allowance
• Income support
• Guaranteed pension credit
• Housing benefit
• Working tax credit and with an income below £15,050 (subject to change)
• Children’s tax credit and with an income below £15,050 (subject to change)
If the disabled person has contributed to a disabled facilities grant within the last five years (for a tenant) their contribution will be reduced by any previous contributions.
In order to make the best use of Council homes, we make every effort to let adapted properties to those applicants who require them. However, there are occasions when, due to low demand, a property may be let to an able bodied person.
In the event that a tenant without a disability accepts a property with an adaptation, they do so on the understanding that the adaptation will not be removed. Only items which can easily be removed and recycled, like stairlifts and hoists, will be removed.
Adaptations such as level access showers or fixed ramps will only be replaced with a non-disabled standard item at the end of its economic life as determined by the Council unless the Council’s determines otherwise for exceptional circumstances. At this point the needs of the current tenant and any potential future use of the property will be considered.
Where the person for whom an adaptation has been completed no longer resides in the property and the tenancy continues i.e under succession, any equipment that cannot easily be removed with remain in the property.
The Council will be responsible for the maintenance of any adaptations installed by us for the life of the tenancy and any future tenancies (or until they are removed).
Where it is identified that a replacement is required for any adaption that has reached the end of its life the Council may require that a new OT assessment is carried out to ensure the adaptation still meets the disabled person’s current needs.
Any tenant wishing to fund and install their own adaptation/s must first get approval in writing from their Housing Officer. Any request will need to provide details on what works and adaptations are to be carried out and by whom. Any works must not start until permission is granted. The Council may inspect the completed works to ensure they are carried out satisfactorily.
The tenant will be responsible for the maintenance and repairs of any adaptations
that they have arranged themselves for the duration of the tenancy. The council
will not be liable for any damage or injury caused by the adaptations.
At the end of the tenancy tenants may be requested to remove any adaptations
and make good any damage to the property.
If the Council needs to repair any damage after the tenancy has ended caused by the adaptation of the property by the former tenant or remove an adaption the former tenant has installed, the former tenant will be liable for the cost.
At the end of a secure tenancy, tenants who have carried out adaptations at their own expense and with the approval, may be eligible for some compensation in accordance with the Housing Act 1985 Part 4 Section 99A Right to compensation for improvements.
Subject to OT approval, where any tenant wishes to alter, or enhance
any recommended work/s which are being undertaken by the Council through the
DFG process, they will be required to fund the difference in cost.
Mutual exchanges will be considered in line with Schedule 3 of the Housing Act 1985 and permission may be refused if the property has been adapted or has features that make it suitable for a disabled person.
Applications to exercise the Right to Buy by tenants who have had adaptations carried out by the Council may be refused in line with the Housing Act 1985 Schedule 5.
All applications will be assessed on a case by case basis.
After any works have been carried out the Council or the social services authority may send out, or contact the tenant, to complete a customer satisfaction survey. The purpose is to seek feedback from tenants to see how successful the adaptations have been and to help improve the service in the future.
Any complaints about this policy or its implementation will be addressed through the Council’s corporate complaints process.
The Council recognises that there may be occasions where applications fall outside the scope of this policy. These will be assesses on an individual case by case basis by the Housing Management Team where appropriate and reasonable to do so.
This policy will be reviewed every 3 years or whenever there is a fundamental change in legislative or regulatory provisions. Minor amendments to this Policy will be subject to the approval of the Head of Housing.