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18 Rights for Disabled People

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1. Introduction

2. When discrimination can happen

3. What the law says

4. What counts as a disability

5. When discrimination is allowed

6. Discrimination at work

7. Discrimination when buying and using goods and services

8. Discrimination by public authorities

9. Discrimination by private clubs and associations

10. Discrimination when buying or renting a property

The law on discrimination against disabled people applies to most sorts of property, including houses and flats as well as business premises. However, it doesn’t cover certain types of property and arrangement, including small properties where:

  • the landlord (or one of their close relatives) lives in the same building and shares some of the living accommodation (including a kitchen or bathroom, but not just a hallway or stairs) with the tenant; and
  • the landlord (or one of several joint landlords) used to live in the house or flat and did not then use a professional estate agent to let or manage it.

A landlord or property manager may be breaking the law if, for example, they:

  • refused to let office space to a self-employed person who was HIV-positive;
  • charged you a higher deposit because they believed your disability would make you more likely to break things;
  • refused to rent a flat to someone who used a guide dog, because there was a no-pets rule;
  • would not provide a portable ramp to someone who used a wheelchair.

A landlord does not have to anticipate how his property, rules or procedures might discriminate against disabled people. Also, the types of changes they must make are limited – they do not have to change the physical features of a building, only their policies, procedures and ‘auxiliary aids’. Various items (such as taps, door handles and remote entry systems) are treated as auxiliary aids, so a landlord may have to provide things like adapted taps or handles if you ask for them.

Although landlords do not have to adjust a property’s physical features, disabled tenants do have rights to make alterations to their home. In such cases, if you ask for permission to make alterations, the landlord can refuse only if there is a good reason. If the planned alterations will affect other people, the landlord should also ask for their permission.

For further information on this area, see the code of practice available from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (see ‘Further help’).

11. Discrimination at school or college

12. What you can do about discrimination

13. Going to an employment tribunal (ET)

14. Going to court

15. Going to a special educational needs and disability tribunal (Sendist)

16. The Human Rights Act

17. Further help

18. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Andrew Short, a barrister at Outer Temple Chambers and specialist in discrimination law.

Leaflet Version: August 2008

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