How much more blatant does discrimination have to be?

Well, that’s interesting.

I am a Housing Association tenant and I have just received my quarterly residents magazine from the HA and I think I am being discriminated against.

Not me personally but me as a disabled person.

Apparently my area is a test area for Housing Association tenants who want to buy their own home under the Government’s much-trumpeted new ‘Right to Buy’ scheme. Now, I am not actually interested in buying, I am more than happy to go on renting, but I thought I’d read the article anyway just to see what was being proposed.

That’s when I found that I am not eligible, despite living in a pilot area.

Why, I hear you ask.

The reason, as usual, is simple. My impairment. The fact that I am severely disabled is proving to be a barrier once again. According to the article, some types of home and tenancies are not included in the pilot, including homes like mine that have had adaptations made to cater for a disabled or older person’s particular, disability related needs.

Now, that smacks of discrimination to me. The article is saying that, if the Housing Association had not made some adaptations because of my impairment nearly twenty years ago, I would now have the right to buy my house, should I want to. Because of those adaptations it appears I don’t have that right.

Now, I am happy to acknowledge that, before we moved into the house, the Housing Association made extensive adaptations such as wider doorways, a wheelchair accessible bathroom and moving the front doorway to accommodate ramped entry to the property. Those adaptations were done using a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) from my local Council. When we were discussing this with the Housing Association, back in 1997, we agreed that we would live in the house and pay rent for a minimum of ten years. We have done this. We have now lived in the property and paid our rent for sixteen years. We have abided by our agreement.

So, why does this mean that, should I wish to buy my home the way the Government wants me to, I can’t. My impairment prevents me from doing so many things, am I now to be prevented from becoming a home-owner because of it? That’s what it sounds like to me. Most people on my estate will be able to buy if they want to, disabled and older people who have had adaptations done, like me,  won’t. That doesn’t sound very fair to me.

I suspect that the issue actually surrounds the scarcity of accessible and adapted properties amongst the social housing stock in the pilot areas but that is not disabled people’s fault. That is the fault of the Housing Associations and, ultimately, successive Governments, for not building enough suitable homes for all the people who may need them. Why should disabled people miss out on a opportunity that is to be granted to so many other people? Why should we be left out in this great rush into home ownership? People with Housing Association homes that have not been adapted will be able to benefit from grants and discounts if they want to buy the property they have lived in for many years but not me or other disabled or older people. If we want to buy a house, we must buy on the open market without a grant or discount. We would have to pay more that a non disabled person buying a similar Housing Association home. That doesn’t sound very fair to me.

If I had the money, the time and the inclination to do it, I might consider instructing solicitors to take this matter to court as the discrimination issue it surely must be. People with adapted properties are not able to buy their homes and people with adapted homes are either older people, disabled people themselves or have a disabled person living in the property such as a disabled child and we are precluded because of this.

How much more blatant does discrimination have to be? As far as I am concerned, not very.    

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12 comments
  1. Amy said:

    It is the same for the original Right to Buy, adapted properties or those deemed suitable for elderly or disabled people are exempt. And yes it does seem unfair; if councils, Government or HA’s were building enough suitable housing the restriction wouldn’t be needed. You’ve paid just as much in rent and made a home the same as a non-disabled person.

    • If we want to buy a property we have to pay full price. People buying their council or Housing Association property get generous discounts. How more unfair can you get? disabled people sure don’t get any special favours from this Government do they. We get the short end of the stick every time… It’s just not right and not fair is it…..

      • Levinas said:

        In the event of a property being exempted from sale-and this will include swathes of rural (non adapted) housing with non disabled tenants, not just adapted properties housing disabled people- the tenant must be offered an equivalent property from within stock-this wont happen due to such stock being exempt- or they will be offered a ‘portable voucher’, equivalent to the amount they would have been awarded as a discount on thier home, which they can use to purchase a home on the open market.

        Is this discriminatory? I dont think so.

      • Where does it say that? Not to mention, if I had to buy a new property, even with a discount, I wuld have to pay for adaptations to be made thus using up the voucher. My current home already has all the adaptations I need but I am not allowed to buy that so I would need to move away and loose my support network. Feels like discriination to me. A non disabled person would not be forced t ove away and leave their friends and family but I, and other disabled people would.

      • Levinas said:

        ‘ Where a housing association exercises its discretion not to sell a home, the housing
        association would provide an alternative from its own stock (either existing or newly
        built) or that of another housing association. Housing associations would work
        together to develop joint arrangements to enable this to happen.
         If a tenant were unhappy with the alternative offered – for example, because it
        represented a worse housing option than the one in which they live, or was in a
        location that presented difficulties in terms of employment, schooling or other
        commitments – they would be allowed to appeal to the Regulator to arbitrate. Where
        the Regulator considered the association has acted fairly, it would suggest the tenant
        accept the offer, or subject to available funding, offer the tenant a portable discount
        to purchase a property on the open market. Where the Regulator considered the
        association had not offered a reasonable alternative, the association would agree to
        offer another alternative.
         This approach would extend opportunities to purchase a home to all 2.3 million
        housing association tenants. Because in many cases housing associations would
        still choose to sell properties to their tenants, even where they fall within one of the
        above categories, it would create new opportunities to purchase a property for
        tenants who live in exempt properties and are currently excluded from the Right to
        Acquire or Preserved Right to Buy. It would also provide new opportunities to
        purchase an alternative home, for example for those tenants whose current home is
        unaffordable.’

        http://nationalhousingfederation.newsweaver.com/icfiles/1/55885/161177/5359868/a266db71336fb8bfef6fbbf2/rtb%20offer%20final%20fed_2.pdf

  2. Levinas said:

    ‘ A non disabled person would not be forced t ove away and leave their friends and family’, actually they would have to do just that. Some properties are exempt, not just those with disability adaptions, and all such tenants will have to move if they wish to take up the right to buy. In this way it is not discriminatory. As for needing adaptions, the voucher would only cover the cost of the housing, adaptions would need further payments such as applying for grants to do the work. If you encounter difficulties accessing funding at this point, then any discrimination will be with the grant funding processes which are already proving problematic for disabled people requiring adaptions, from what i’ve read, leading to legal challenges. I can only see this exacerbating the problem.

    Joe Halewood wrote of the portable voucher but that article appears to have been removed. I do recall it’s being mentioned in a gov publication concerning right to buy and i think it’s expected to be an unusual occurance as the H.A. is expected to offer you a second property, which must be suitable to your needs, hence why i would expect those in adapted properties to be offered portable vouchers.

  3. Nienna said:

    That’s disgusting, it’s an outrage, so unfair.

  4. lorrianne said:

    What if the law was changed to allow disabled people to buy the house they were liingin if the modifications made were the same as what they would need to have done in another home, according to their disability?

    • That would be better. It would allow disabled people to stay where their support networks are – carers, consultants, doctors, families and friends etc.

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