Housing hitch in discrimination bill

Measures to tackle discrimination against disabled people could
reduce their choice about the type of housing available to them,
experts have warned.

An influential group of MPs and Lords has recommended that new
disability legislation should include provisions to stop landlords
from unreasonably withholding consent for disabled tenants to make
appropriate physical changes to a property, and called on the
government to consider setting up an accessible housing register.

But Peter Smith, project officer for equalities at the Local
Government Association, said there could be problems with how
“unreasonably withholding consent” was defined.

He added that an accessibility housing register could result in
councils and housing providers only offering already altered
properties to disabled people, which could limit their choice about
where they lived.

However, Sarah Davis, policy officer for the Chartered Institute of
Housing, thought a register would help housing providers know what
stock was out there and help match that with people’s needs.

The parliamentary committee of review of the draft bill recommends
the final version should have its title changed to the Disability
Anti-Discrimination Bill. It also suggests duties on councils to
promote “good relations” between non-disabled and disabled people,
and a final deadline of 2017 for all trains to be fully accessible.
The review also calls for the scope of disability to be extended to
those suffering from HIV, cancer and multiple sclerosis from the
point of diagnosis. 

– Report from www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/dddb.cfm

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