Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) in the Private Rented Sector.

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Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) in the Private Rented Sector.

National Residential Landlords Association launches a new campaign on Adaptations in the PRS, calling for greater cooperation between landlords & local authorities, and clear communications around DFGs.

Disabled Facilities Grant in the Private Rented Sector

New Campaign for Adaptations in the Private Rented Sector

Foundations, the leading resource for Disabled Facilities Grants and Home Improvement Agencies in England, hosted their monthly webinar yesterday (23-Mar-21) on Accessibility in the Private Rented Sector. (You can see all previous Foundations webinar series speakers here. Be patient while page loads and then scroll down.)

This provided a platform for the National Residential Landlords Association - NRLA to launch their new campaign for Adaptations in the Private Rented Sector and a call for Local Authorities to work more closely with private landlords. If you want to follow this campaign on social media, and share your adaptations stories, as a landlord or a tenant, NRLA have created the hashtag #AdaptPRS. And we urge you to join the call, because stories (positive and horror) will inform the current discussion at a Parliamentary level. 

This is a much needed initiative because the private rented sector is key to helping disabled and older people find suitable homes. It offers diversity - in terms of types of property, tenure, geographic locations, and investor motivations - and the numbers are significant, with 4.6m households renting privately in 2019-2020. Yet research by Abode Impact shows that 91% of wheelchair users surveyed faced barriers to accessing the private rented sector. 
private rented sector is key to helping disabled people find suitable homes search
It's a complex area and there are multiple reasons for these barriers, which involve landlords and their properties, wheelchair users' needs as tenants, and the processes that link them. However, the existence of accessible housing stock is a fundamental part of the solution. AccessiblePRS was pleased to collaborate on the NLRA guidance (below) and welcomes this campaign to find more ways to bring private landlords on board with accessibility and pilot initiatives for them to cooperate with Local Authorities, including greater awareness and uptake of the Disabled Facilities Grant.

The Foundations charts below, show that despite 18.8% of people with disabilities living in the private rented sector according to the Office for National Statistics, only 6% of Disabled Facilities Grants go to private renters.
FoundationsHIA disabled facilities grant in the private rented sector statistics

NRLA Campaign Agenda

This campaign is significant because the NRLA is the UK's largest landlord association - with over 90,000 members - and they are calling for:

  1. Greater cooperation between landlords and local authorities to resolve the urgent need for more adapted private rented accommodation.

  2. Clearer communication from local authorities to landlords concerning the availability of the Disabled Facilities Grant. 

Their size means they can do some heavy lifting around raising awareness for home adaptations for disabled and older people, charting out the processes, and explaining what it all means to landlords and their properties. Their adaptations guidance for landlords was developed with the support of a number of expert partners (including AccessiblePRS, Jacquel Runnalls, Foundations and Abode Impact) and aims to support landlords in better managing tenant requests for home adaptations. 
NLRA Adaptations: Good Practice Guidance PDF

1. NRLA Guidance - Adaptations: Good Practice Guidance. A guidance document to help landlords understand adaptations for their rented properties.

Click on the image to read, download & share - How it views when you click on it will depend on your browser settings.
NRLA Combined Adaptations Report
2. NRLA Research Report - Adapting the Private Rented Sector. An insight into the awareness of and perceived barriers to adaptations for disabled and older people for private landlords.

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What Does All This Mean? And Where Do We Go From Here?

Educating landlords is an important part of the puzzle. NRLA's research (above) showed that among their members there were was either little awareness of the issue or perceived issues as barriers to addressing it via their own properties and portfolios. This new campaign should kickstart a more cooperative approach and clearer communications to what landlords can do, what are their responsibilities and what help they can receive - including staying in control of their properties. 

There is a still a long way to go from here. 

AccessiblePRS would like to positive progress in the form of pilot schemes with local authorities to develop ways of increasing the supply of adapted properties in the private rented sector and implementing Disabled Facilities Grants in a timely manner. For wheelchair users this means looking at the process timelines so that we can swiftly implement both the process and the adaptation works, where we have a willing property owner and a known wheelchair user as incoming tenant.

Finally, those of us working in this area must share case studies, charting a landlord’s experience of delivering adapted properties, so that others can see how possible, practical and beneficial it is.