Discrimination in the PRS: Accessibility

Written by Anna Tuhey

A blog by Anna Tuhey, our PRS Champions Manager, alongside partners at Care and Repair. Find out more about Anna’s work and project here.  


At Tai Pawb, we describe adequate housing a ‘home that is safe, secure and suitable’.  

A suitable home meets our needs – both physical and psychological – and allows us to carry out our daily tasks and live independently. Those with physical, mental, or learning disabilities are entitled to reasonable adjustments to enable this, and there are over 70 organisations in Wales which work to provide these adjustments where they are needed. 

In the Private Rented Sector, it can be more difficult to access reasonable adjustments compared with other housing tenures. The reasons for this can be complex, but three prevailing themes emerge: 

  • Unwillingness on the part of landlords to consent to adaptations or adjustments. Some landlords express concern about making adaptations to a property, citing the cost and effort of the property being ‘put back’ after the tenant moves on. A recent report by Care and Repair described one landlord who refused permission for fully grant-funded bathroom works: I’m afraid I’m not happy with a situation where we would need to cover the cost of putting the bathroom back to standard at a later date”. It is a shame to see the implication here that an accessible bathroom is somehow not ‘to standard’. 
  • Unwillingness on the part of tenants to request reasonable adjustments. It is not uncommon for tenants to fear negative consequences from their landlord to the extent that they do not ask for adjustments even when they may desperately need them. Some people don’t want to ‘rock the boat’; they worry that landlords will evict them if they are seen as being too ‘demanding’ (despite this not being a lawful reason to commence eviction proceedings). These fears may also be why “disabled people and people with a long-term health condition were more likely to have experienced cold, damp or mould in their privately rented home, with more than three quarters (77%) of disabled people saying they had experienced these types of problems” (citizensadvice.org.uk).   
  • Lack of knowledge on the part of the tenant or landlord. In some cases, the tenant and / or landlord may be unaware of services and funding available to help with the costs of adaptations. Research by the NRLA found that “79% of landlords did not know that funding is available through the DFG.” In other cases, a landlord may lack the knowledge or understanding to implement a reasonable adjustment (for example, in not knowing how to engage with a tenant who is autistic), or a tenant may not realise that there is a particular adjustment that they are entitled to receive. 


This case study from Care and Repair describes an increasingly common scenario: 

Mrs A is an 89-year-old woman living in a privately rented flat. In February 2023, we received occupational therapy recommendations for Mrs A to have level access shower facilities installed and an invite to apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant to fund the adaptations. Mrs A was in receipt of means tested benefits so was eligible for full grant funding towards the cost of the works. We contacted her landlord to request permission for the works to go ahead. Despite having previously given permission for similar works in other properties, he declined to give permission unless the tenant met the cost of reinstating the previous family bathroom. Unfortunately, the client stated she would be unable to meet this cost and the works did not go ahead.  

With calls from the PRS up 12% this year, Care and Repair are coming across more and more situations like this. However, there are clear long-term benefits (aside from fulfilling a moral duty towards one’s tenants) for private sector landlords to be open to owning adapted and accessible properties: 

Security of tenure 

Tenants who have had successful adaptations made to their rental property are unlikely to want to move on quickly – this Best Practice guide from the NRLA describes a Statement of Intent made before commencing adaptations. This could state that the landlord “intends for the property to continue to be occupied by the disabled tenant for up to five years after the grant-funded work has been completed” and that the tenant “confirms that they intend to live in the property for the same five-year period”. Such an agreement is a logical step for both tenant and landlord, who each benefit from a long-term, secure tenure.    

Future selling point 

Demand for accessible housing in Wales is only set to increase over the coming years (by 2035, 58% of people over 65 are predicted to have a mobility impairment) so investing in this now makes good business sense. Features such as wet rooms, level access showers and wide door frames can be real selling points given how few properties in the PRS have them.   


Whatever the reasons, the wider societal implications for improving accessible housing are clear. As Care and Repair said, “We know that for every £1 spent on housing adaptations, we save the Welsh NHS around £7.50”.