Houses, Houses Everywhere but No Accessible Homes in Sight

By Ashley Murray

March 14, 2020

There are over 25 million homes in the UK. Only 7% of which provide even the most basic features of accessibility, making a property ‘visitable by persons with a disability’. The number suitable for a wheelchair user is even smaller, totaling just 1%. 

With 22% of the UK population, or 1 in 5 people, qualifying themselves as disabled, the lack of adapted housing limits disabled people’s ability to live their lives without struggling to do things we all take for granted, like using the bathroom or entering a doorway. On top of this, visiting friends and loved ones or going somewhere like a museum or the library can be near impossible due to the lack of accessible buildings and transport.

According to the NHS there are 1.2 million wheelchair users, so the need for adaptations such as entry ramps, walk-in showers, and stairlifts is greater than it has ever been. Many homes are split across two or more floors and can leave those with mobility issues with no way to get up and down the stairs. Being confined to one or two cramped rooms can leave people feeling ‘trapped’ in their own homes. 

Living in unsuitable housing can harm not just those with permanent disabilities, but people recovering from an accident. Aspire, a charity that helps sufferers of paralysis as a result of damage to the spinal cord published independent research and learned that participants find inaccessible housing compromises their health and quality of life on numerous levels. 

Hugo, one of those included in the research suffering from a recent Spinal cord injury confessed:

“When I was in rehab, I learned to do a lot of things. As soon as I came out of there, I went backwards instead of forwards. I went backwards … this is down to living here [an unadapted house]. It means I’m losing what I learnt, my health is suffering and I’m worried I’ll end up back in hospital.”

Another participant, Vicky, said: 

“Because of the house I live in, I’ve lost all my muscle mass that I built up in rehab. I’ve just got nothing and I’m so weak. I’ve lost it all. My health is going downhill, physically and mentally.”

Finding an accessible home can mean many years of waiting. In Great Yarmouth, which has a population of 99,370 (2018), the average time spent on the waiting list for an accessible home is 2 years 1 month, with the longest recorded wait standing at 3 years and 8 months. 

Things don’t get much better when you look at the national picture… Outside of London, only 23% of the homes to be built by 2030 will meet even the basic criteria, such as an entry-level toilet or bathroom with walls strong enough to withstand the strain of grab rails.

Even identifying a potential accessible home is an extremely difficult prospect as the big property websites Zoopla, Rightmove, and Purplebricks do not offer the ability to specifically search for an accessible property. Plus there is nothing included in the property adverts to indicate when you have actually found one, meaning you can lose hours calling listing after listing, only to be disappointed within the first minute of the conversation.

The Accessible Property Register is the only dedicated resource for discovering and contacting potential landlords and sellers of accessible properties. Each listing, whether to buy or to let, contains a checklist at the bottom of the page that details what accessible features the property has, making sure that you find the best home for your needs.

Below are just a handful of the accessible features listed on all APR property adverts:

  • Wheelchair access to property (step-free, level or ramped)
  • Level access to main entrance level rooms
  • Entrance level WC
  • Off-street or allocated parking
  • Widened doorways (minimum 800mm)
  • Entrance level bath or shower room
  • Adapted kitchen (raised or adjustable units)
  • Intercom
  • Remote door opening

APR offers other products, such as a holiday rentals search and a disability directory that contains links to a range of suppliers of useful adaptive equipment, to help transform your everyday life. Sections include Stair Lifts, Wheelchair Ramp Suppliers, Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles, Visual Aids, Orthopedic Products, Occupational Therapists and more. With all of these tools at your disposal, as well as the blog, APR is your one-stop-shop for all things accessible property-related, making your life that little bit easier.