The Petition of Maureen Faith, residents of sheltered accommodation at Kitkatts Road, Canvey Island, and others,
Declares that elderly residents in sheltered accommodation at Kitkatts Road, Canvey Island are in significant danger and unable to easily get around communal areas of their home due to the lack of ramps, trip hazards and other minor changes to assist their mobility around their home and make it easier and safer; notes that Josie Cooper at the home is wheelchair bound and has not been out of her home for two years due to access issues with the structure of her home and particularly the lack of a ramp at her back door and the inability of her wheelchair to pass through her door frame, which leaves her isolated and unable to enjoy her garden or join in any of the community activities, denying her choice and quality of life although she remains extremely positive and caring towards others.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage the local Council and wheelchair service providers to resolve the problems for Josie and for all residents by immediately implementing a programme of access and safety improvements for all these excellent local residents.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Bob Spink, Official Report, 6 May 2009; Vol. 492, c. 317.]
Observations from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions:
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA), currently places landlords and those who manage rented premises, and commonhold associations, under a duty in certain circumstances to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people who are either tenants or occupiers of those rented premises, or the owners or occupiers of units in commonhold premises. They are only required to make the adjustments where these are requested by the disabled person and the duty is limited to making reasonable adjustments to policies, practices or procedures, or the provision of auxiliary aids or services. The DDA duties do not extend to requiring landlords and managers etc. to make physical adjustments to the let premises themselves. However, provisions in housing legislation allow disabled people to make alterations to the let premises, in certain circumstances. The DDA provides for a disabled person, to whom the provisions in the housing legislation do not apply, to seek consent to make alterations to the premises that they rent and the landlord or manager cannot unreasonably refuse to give consent.
A Government review, completed in 2005, looked at problems faced by disabled people in accessing communal areas of residential property (for example, a communal lounge or garden, or entrance hall to a block of flats). The Review Group on Common Parts carried out a thorough review of the issues and made a number of recommendations. In particular, the Group recommended that the Government should establish, through consultation, whether new legislation was required to solve the difficulties that people face when they need an adjustment made to the common parts of let residential premises, and that it should seek views on the Group’s specific proposals for England and Wales. These proposals included, for example, a requirement that the landlord, where reasonable, should make an adjustment to physical features of the common parts of residential let premises to improve access for a disabled tenant, lessee or occupier when requested to do so by the tenant or lessee. Similar provisions were to be developed for commonhold premises.
In response to consultation, the Equality Act 2010, when it comes into force, will place a new duty on those who are responsible for the common parts of premises. They will be required to make disability-related alterations to the common parts of let residential premises or units owned on a commonhold basis, where the alteration is requested by, or on behalf of, a disabled tenant, occupier or commonhold unit holder, and it is reasonable in all the circumstances of the case to make the alteration. However, the disabled person may be obliged to pay the costs of the alteration.
It will fall to the relevant authority responsible for the provision of sheltered housing accommodation at Kitkatts Road, Canvey Island, to decide how best to implement access arrangements in respect of the residents there.