Landlords must allow ‘reasonable and necessary’ alterations for disabled tenants following ruling

Landlords must now allow disabled leaseholders to adapt their homes to their needs following a landmark discrimination case.

The court ruled in favour of disabled tenant Stacey Smailes, 33, who was forced to move out of her home after her landlord refused to make concessions to the clause in their lease which prohibited alternations.

The judgment means landlords must now allow disabled leaseholders to make reasonable and necessary alterations to their homes.

 Mrs Smailes suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome which affects her joints, ligaments and blood vessels and restricts her mobility.

 She had requested permission from Clewer Court Residents Limited to make alterations to her kitchen and bathroom at her flat in Clewer Court, Newport, which she and partner Andy owned the lease to.

 Mrs Smailes asked to turn her living room into a kitchen, as the flat’s original one was difficult to access when she was in her wheelchair.

 She also asked that her bedroom door be moved so it could be closer to her bed to allow her to go to the toilet independently at night and see to her 16-month-year-old son.

 But she said their requests were met with “hostility” by landlords who asked her to “prove” her disability.

 Following the hearing, Mrs Smailes said she was “relieved” and hoped the decision would stop other disabled people experiencing the same problems in future.

 Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive at the EHRC, said: “We are pleased the court has clarified that landlords must change lease agreements to allow alterations that are reasonable and necessary.

 “This issue affects many disabled tenants and we hope that today’s ruling will go a long way to ensure that disabled people can enjoy their right to independent living.”

 Sarah Conroy, a partner at Weightmans solicitors, said: “This judgment provides crucial clarification on the law, and we hope that it encourages a wider shift for disabled leaseholders allowing them to enjoy independent living in their own home.”