It is very important that landlords comply with anti-discrimination law when dealing with tenants and applicants. Most landlords will be aware of some of the “protected characteristics” against which you must not discriminate but how many could list them all? The Equality Act 2010 consolidates previous legislation and the full list is now: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
To avoid breaking the law it is essential to avoid direct or indirect discrimination in your dealings with tenants and applicants.
There is also the question of making alterations to your property to accommodate disabled tenants. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 requires landlords not unreasonably to refuse consent to alterations to premises. For example if a tenant wishes to make an alteration to a flat at his or her own expense. Landlord insurance clients should be aware that the new act incorporates these provisions but it adds new duties in connection with alterations to common parts. If a disabled tenant requests physical changes to common parts to reduce or avoid a disadvantage suffered in comparison with non-disabled people the landlord must consult with others likely to be effected. Then, having considered the results of the consultation, the landlord must take whatever steps are reasonable to avoid the disadvantage.
If alterations to the common parts are considered reasonable the landlord must enter into a written agreement with the disabled person setting out their respective obligations in relation to the work. It is likely that the landlord will require the tenant to fund the alterations.