New guidance from the NRLA will help landlords manage tenant requests for home adaptations
There are a growing number of people renting in later life which means landlords will have a greater responsibility to ensure homes are suitable for their tenants' needs.
In this blog, Henry Smith, our Senior Programme Manager for Homes, lays out the needs of older renters and how new guidance from the National Residential Landlords Association can advise landlords on how to manage tenant requests for home adaptations.
It is a well-known fact that the age demographic of the UK is shifting. As a population we are getting older. Over the next 20 years the number of people aged 65 and over will increase by almost 5 million, or 40%. But what is less well-known is how we must adapt to accommodate an ageing population with changes needed in our workplaces, communities and homes in particular.
Specialist housing has an important role to play but the majority of people will live most or all of their lives in ordinary housing, which means mainstream housing stock must be suitable for occupants of all ages and abilities. Building accessible new homes is vital for future proofing our housing stock. But we also need to update current housing stock since at least 80% of UK homes that will exist in 2050 have already been built.
As we age we are more likely to experience mobility or visual impairment issues with one fifth of adults aged 65-69 requiring help with one or more activities of daily living (such as bathing, cooking or using the toilet unaided). But currently fewer than one in ten homes are suitable for people with mobility issues, which means many people are living in homes unsuitable for their needs and are a danger to their health. One of the most frequently observed hazards which classifies a home as ‘non-decent’ are falls risks, which can result in serious injury and even death in older adults. Simple adaptations such as grab rails and inclusive products can enable people to remain safe, active and independent in their own homes, delaying or averting the need to move into a care facility.
With the population age shift there has also been a shift in homeownership and an ever-growing number of older renters – double the number of over 55s are living in private rented accommodation now compared to 2003. Homeowners have the option to make improvements to their own homes, but what about renters?
Making a home more accessible should be seen as an investment
The National Residential Landlords Association, in partnership with the Centre for Ageing Better and other organisations, has developed a guide that sets out how private landlords can consider requests for adaptations to make their properties more inclusive and accessible. The guide lays out the types of adaptations that may be needed, how the work should be funded and the level of involvement the landlords needs to have – which can be as minimal as just providing written consent the adaptations can go ahead.
It’s also important to highlight that landlords don’t necessarily need to foot the bill. Tenants or landlords can apply for funding from the social care budget if the adaptations are classified as minor (grab rails, ramps and lever taps), while major adaptations (installing a level access shower or wet room, widening doorframes, or putting in a stairlift, can often be funded by the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG). But making a home more accessible should be seen as an investment. With an ageing population, demand will increase so having an accessible property will put you ahead of your competitors.
For many people as they enter later life, their landlord will be the key to ensuring that the home they live in caters to their needs. This guide will help landlords understand how they can provide for their tenants and make the necessary adaptations to ensure their tenants' comfort and safety.