What are my Housing Options?


If you own your own home there are two main options to consider, adaptations or moving. It may be that your home can be adapted to suit your needs and you may wish to remain in your home and do not want to move, however it is important to be realistic. Adaptations can be very costly.

If you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland you may be eligible for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG). An Occupational Therapist (OT) can conduct an assessment and refer you for a DFG for the adaptations you require. However, the maximum it can fund is £25k in N. Ireland, £30k in England and £36k in Wales and this may not cover the estimated cost. A DFG is also means-tested so your income and any savings over £6k will be taken into consideration when applying. See further info below on Adaptations and DFG.  

It may be more beneficial to sell your current property and purchase one which is already adapted or can be more readily adapted to suite your need. Your OT can remain involved in this process, offering advice on potential properties and their suitability, conducting an assessment and assisting with adaptations on the new property. You can still receive a DFG on your new property provided you meet the means-tested element, any equity left after purchasing your new property will be taken into consideration. 

If you cannot afford to remain in your current property, then you will need to approach your local council for advice and assistance. Your options would depend on the equity you have available and could be Social housing, downsizing or Shared Ownership.

Social housing tenant

If you are a current social housing tenant it is important you DO NOT relinquish your tenancy, even if you are aware that your home will be inaccessible to you.

A community OT can assess your home and what your accessibility needs are. This will be a specialised assessment which will form the basis of any potential adaptations. Your Social Landlord will determine if the property can be adapted or if it is more beneficial to find you an alternate, more suitable, property. If the property cannot be adapted your Housing Association (or Local Authority if your property is council owned) will discuss options with you. Your Housing Association will likely look for an accessible property for you within their own stock. However, it is important that they also refer you to the Local Authority for re-housing, so you are considered for all available accessible properties in your area. If your property is owned by the Council then you should be registered for by them for re-housing.

If you are not confident that your Housing Association has referred you, then please speak to your Local Authority housing department directly. They may attempt to refer you back to your Housing Association so please explain to them your current situation and lack of an accessible property and that you wish to be placed on the housing register for re-housing. 

If you are confused as to whether your property is Housing Association owned or Local Authority/Council owned then please refer to your rent payments. Your Landlord will be whomever you pay rent to.

Private rent

If you are a current private tenant it is important you DO NOT relinquish your tenancy, even if you are aware that your home will be inaccessible to you.

You don't have to be living on the streets to be homeless. You may be legally classed as homeless if you are disabled and unable to return home because your home is no longer accessible to you.

Therefore, if you are homeless and you are in a Spinal Injury Centre you should speak to your Discharge Officer/Case Manager who an assist you with making a homeless application.

If you are not at a Spinal Injury Centre and do not have the assistance of a Case Manager then you will need to contact your Local Authority to ensure they are aware of your situation.

Unfortunately, there is no legal obligation for landlords to allow you to make structural or major changes to the property but they do have a responsibility to allow you to make minor ones. Where they do allow major changes, such as changing a bathroom into a wet-room or adapting a kitchen, they also have the right to demand that when you leave you change things back to the original layout. While you can apply for funding to complete the adaptations there is no funding available to reverse these changes. So please do check before committing to any major works.

If your landlord would not agree to any adaptations, or if the property cannot be adapted, then it is important to speak with your Local Authority to get yourself and your family on to the housing list. Not everyone is eligible for social housing and your Local Authority will be able to let you know if you are.

One of the important things to remember is that while your Local Authority does not have a legal requirement to house you it does have an obligation to help you by giving you advice on finding a new home. What their obligation is will depend on your personal circumstances. The first thing they will look for is whether you have a local connection to that area. They will then look at your financial situation, taking into account your income and savings, whether you could afford to buy your own home or whether a suitable property can be found for you through private rent.

If you require minimal adaptations, for example if you require a property with minimal steps and a standard shower (rather than an entire wet-room), it is unlikely you will be eligible for social housing on this basis, or you may be given low priority as these properties can be readily found through private rent. 

Living with family

If you currently live with your parents or other family then there are a few things for you to consider. It may be that you wish to remain as part of the household, in which case your options will depend on the nature of your family’s owner/occupier status. Please see Owner, social housing or private rent, for further information.

It is important to bear in mind that if a property is adapted for you by the council or you have received a Disabled Facilities Grant, there are certain conditions attached. You may have to pay back some of these funds if you were to move from the home within 5-10 years, or you may be ineligible for a grant on any other property you move to within 5-10 years. So please do think carefully as to whether you see living with family as a temporary or long-term solution.

If you do not wish to remain as part of the family home then please approach your Local Authority for advice and assistance. If you are financially able to purchase a property you will not be eligible for social housing but an Occupational Therapist may be able to assist with finding a suitable property for you to purchase and advise on any necessary adaptations.

How do I apply for social housing?

Each Local Authority may have slightly different processes and you will need to contact them directly for advice on their application process. There are rules as to where you can apply and you must have a local connection to that area to be accepted. For more info on Local Connection see below.

It is best to discuss your options with the housing team in person, or over the phone if possible. Advise them of your disability and need for accessible housing and any issues you may face with their standard procedure. All Authorities must take your needs into account and ensure they have an application procedure which is accessible to you. 

When completing your application, it is best to be as honest as possible and advise fully of your circumstances. Compete the medical questionnaire in full and supply any supporting evidence such as a letter from your GP, Social Care assessment and Occupational Therapy assessment.

One of the important things to remember is that while your Local Authority does not have a legal requirement to house you it does have an obligation to help you by giving you advice on finding a new home. What their obligation is will depend on your personal circumstances. The first thing they will look for is whether you have a local connection to that area. They will then look at your financial situation, whether you could afford to pay a market rent, or buy your own home. They will also look in-depth at your income and savings.  

Should I make a homeless application or a general housing application, what’s the difference?

You don't have to be living on the streets to be homeless. You may be legally classed as homeless if you are disabled and unable to return home because your home is no longer accessible to you, or if you are living in your own home but the house is not suitable for you to live there independently. If this is the case it is important that you make a Homelessness application. If you are accepted as homeless then the council have a duty to find you somewhere to stay temporarily. They will also assess whether you are eligible for inclusion on the general housing register for permanent housing.  This gives you an extra level of security as you do not need to wait for a suitable permanent property to become available but can be accommodated in temporary accommodation while you wait.

If you think you may be considered homeless and you are in a Spinal Injury Centre you should speak to your Discharge Officer/Case Manager or alternatively your Local Authority housing team who are there to help you understand your current housing situation and need.

What is a local area connection?

You will need to establish a “local connection” for an authority to accept you on their housing list.
To ensure you have a connection you need to have lived in the area for a set amount of time (this set amount of time varies from authority to authority.)  Depending on the Local Authority they may also accept the following;

  • Have close family connections in the area.
  • Your parents still live there.
  • Your children are there.
  • You grew up there.
  • Need to move in order to give/receive support.
  • You work in the area.

If you do not have a local connection with the authority you have applied to, they can insist you go to one where you have a clearer connection.

Returning from abroad/foreign nationals

If you are not a British citizen, you will need to get advice on what housing rights you have. This can be complicated to resolve but they will need to look into where you are from, how long you have been living in the UK, what type of visa you entered with and what your current status is.

If you are British you have the right to return to Britain at any time. However, it does not necessarily give you the right to access social housing and services. If you have been living abroad you will need to check on your rights, right to reside and determine if you have a ‘local connection’ to the borough you wish to return to. You may need to pass the “habitual residency test” to prove this. They will look at the reasons around why you left, what the purpose was for your leaving and whether it was your intention to leave the country to emigrate.

The habitual residency test will be used to establish where you are deemed to be residing. If you should fail this test then you will not be eligible to apply for social housing and you will need to look for a temporary housing solution while you build up time back in the UK. Once you re-establish your residency rights you will be able to reapply for social housing.

I have received confirmation I’m on the register but want to check my information is correct

When your application has been assessed they should inform you in writing of the decision, which should include confirmation of property size (1,2 bedroom etc.) your level of priority either by banding (e.g. Band A,B,C /1,2,3 or similar) or points allocation (e.g. 150 points) and your accessible property level (e.g. level 1-fully accessible). Please ensure all of this is in order and they have correctly assessed your application. If you disagree with their decision, then the letter should also contain advice on how to appeal the decision or how to advise them of any inconsistencies.

Please note, sometimes your medical questionnaire will be assessed separately to your application. If your banding, bedroom entitlement or level of need looks incorrect, check if the letter states the medical questionnaire is being assessed separately. If it does then this may not be your final banding and will be updated once your medical questionnaire has been assessed. If you are in any doubt or are unsure if they have received your medical questionnaire contact your housing team to clarify this and ensure they are assessing your information correctly.   

How many bedrooms am I entitled to?

You may qualify for an extra bedroom if your household includes a disabled adult, child or non-dependant who needs overnight care from a non-resident carer or group of carers. The rules in relation to people who need overnight care specify that you must have been assessed by Social Services or CHC as needed 24hour care. If you have not been assessed as needing 24hour care, then the council cannot consider you for an extra room.

The following are entitled to one bedroom:

  • A couple
  • A single adult
  • A child over the age of 16
  • 2 children of the same sex under the age of 16
  • 2 children of either sex under the age of 10

Extra rooms

The number of bedrooms a household needs can be increased by one in certain circumstances. The rules in this area are complicated and you may need to take advice on your individual situation, this can include the following;

  • An adult couple who are unable to share a room because of a disability
  • A child who would be expected to share a bedroom but cannot share because of their disability
  • A foster carer

Adaptations and Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG)

A DFG is a means-tested grant for disabled people to enable you to make changes to your home to continue living there.

It could be used to fund work such as:

  • widening doorways
  • installing a stair lift
  • converting a downstairs room to a toilet or bathroom
  • fitting hand rails
  • making outside steps easier to use or installing ramps
  • adapting heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use.

How much is available for a DFG?

In England, it’s possible to get up to £30,000

In Northern Ireland, up to £25,000 is available

In Scotland, the sum is discretionary, depending on the local council (for more information, see below).

In Wales, up to £36,000 is available.

Who can get a DFG?

The DFG is means tested for people aged 18 years or over, so the amount that you could get depends on your household income and savings. The means test looks at your income and savings together with that of your spouse or partner and any savings over £6k. Other members of the household aren't included. As each local authority has its own policy, we're unable to provide you with information as to the threshold for income and savings. We suggest that you contact your local authority to find out more.

If you do wish to go ahead with adaptations and you face a shortfall in DFG funding your OT should be able to advise you on other possible avenues of funding or grants available in your locality. However, these are unlikely to cover the full amount.

Disabled children under 18 can get a grant without their parents’ income being taken into account. 

N.B. You cannot claim a DFG for works already completed or underway.

Adaptations in Scotland

Scotland operates slightly differently and does not follow a DFG process. Contact your local authority Social Work Services if you think you need a major adaptation. You should do this even if you do not want to apply for a grant.  They will arrange for your needs to be assessed. This is usually done by an Occupational Therapist and will look at the difficulties you are facing in your home and suggest ways to help you.  Your local Social Work Services will decide, following the assessment of your needs, whether the changes needed to your home meet the conditions for essential work. The assessment will also consider how urgently you need a grant.

You will be awarded a grant for works that are deemed as essential, this is called ‘mandatory grant’. The rules about mandatory grants apply to all Councils and there are two different levels of mandatory grant.

  • Everyone will get 80% of the costs of work covered by mandatory grant.
  • Some people will get 100% of the costs covered by grant.

For more information on the grants process in Scotland please see here.

I’m waiting on adaptations through DFG but I don’t know what’s happening

If you are waiting for adaptations and are confused about what is happening/not happening it is important to establish what has been done so far to see where your case is presently.

When your home requires adaptations, you will be referred for an assessment from an Occupational Therapist (OT) the OT will assess what it is you need to access your home. You will then be referred for a means test to establish if you meet the criteria for a DFG. Once this has been agreed and the costs have been established plans will be drawn up for approval. Then works can begin.

If you have not had an OT assessment on your property then it in important to contact your local Adult Social Care team to ensure that you are on the waiting list for this.

If the OT has completed an assessment but you have heard nothing since, contact your OT to advise them of this and ask where the delay is.

If you have been contacted by the team responsible for authorising the DFG (e.g. if you have had a means test conducted or a technical assessment by an officer or surveyor) then contact them directly about what the hold up is and what the next steps are.

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