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Housing Associations: Disabled

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 1 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what statutory obligations housing associations have to accommodate the needs of disabled tenants; (202599)

(2) what statutory obligations housing associations have to improve their housing stock for disabled tenants;

(3) what statutory obligations housing associations have to (a) rehouse disabled tenants and (b) prioritise their needs on local housing waiting lists.

Housing associations (RSLs) are independent not-for-profit organisations responsible for their own lettings policy, governance and management of stock. However, under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, it is unlawful for service providers (including housing associations) to treat someone less favourably because of their disability, and they must make ‘reasonable adjustments' for them, such as giving that person extra help or changing the way they provide their services.

Further, the Housing Corporation, which invests in and regulates RSLs, also has statutory duties under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Through its regulatory code, it requires that RSLs operate according to the law, their constitutions and regulatory requirements. The code requires that they demonstrate when carrying out all their functions commitment to equal opportunities, work towards the elimination of discrimination, demonstrate an equitable approach to rights of all individuals, and be responsive to the individual circumstances of residents. RSLs should have an equalities and diversity policy.

The regulatory code requires that RSLs have lettings and sales policies which are flexible, non-discriminatory, responsive to demand, and which contribute to the need to be inclusive and ensure sustainable communities. Section 170 of the 1996 Housing Act requires that RSLs co-operate with local housing authorities to enable the latter to fulfil their duties to the homeless, the vulnerable, people in priority housing need and those covered by the Government's Supporting People policy. Where a local authority so requests, and to such an extent as is reasonable in the circumstances, RSLs must co-operate in offering accommodation to people with priority on the authority's housing register. In addition, section 106(2) of the Housing Act 1985 requires that RSLs maintain a set of rules determining priority between applicants in allocating housing accommodation and the rules governing the procedure.