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  • Buy-to-Let

    My tenant wants a disability wet room



    Hi Property Tribes

    I have a one bed flat in Scotland. It's a simple, basic flat renting for roughly £350 pcm. The tenants are a couple in their 60's who by all accounts are perfect tenants. The gentleman has even done a substantial amount of work for free in the garden, tidying it up, building a shed and planting fresh grass and flowers.

    The lady has disability issues and this makes it difficult and dangerous for her to get into the bath. I currently have a standard bathroom.

    The lady is seeing an occupational therapist. At first the occupational therapist wanted to mount rails in the bathroom. Now the occupational therapist is saying the lady needs a disability wet room.

    Installing a disability bathroom would involve laying a tiled wet floor, a tiled wet wall panel, shower, shower screen, handles everywhere. The bath would be removed. If you are unfamiliar with what disability wet rooms look like, Google the term and click on Images. It does not look like the kind of wet room you might see in hotel in a tropical country. It looks like a bathroom for disabled people.

    The cost of installing a disability wet room will be £3,500. I have been told that the couple will be eligible for a 100% grant from the council and I will only have to pay a £50 admin fee.

    So I have been asked for my consent to install a disability wet room in my property.

    It's a difficult decision for me.

    On the one hand, my tenants seem like wonderful people who want to remain in my property for the foreseeable future and I'd like to help them if I can.

    On the other hand, property professionals I have spoken to have warned me that if my tenants were to move out, I would be be left with a disability bedroom that would stigmatise the property in the eyes of potential tenants, or potential buyers should I wish to sell. I would have to rip up the floor and wall tiles and install a new bathroom costing potentially thousands of pounds.

    I'm minded to refuse to consent to a disability wet room. I might try to explore other possibilities, maybe some sort of walk-in bath.

    I'm curious to see if other members have any views on the matter.

    Thanks for reading!

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    I do understand your dilemma Tony and I concur with the advice you have been given with regards how this type of bathroom will reduce the appeal of your property once this couple move out.

    It's a tough one!

    I came across this bath lift for £190.00 which might be a compromise.

    Perhaps see if the tenant can visit a disability showroom and try a few less drastic options?

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    Thanks for replying Vanessa.

    The bath lift you shared looks pretty nifty. The price is good too.

    I will see if I can work with the tenant to explore other options. I'll also check out some disability showroom websites to see what's on offer.


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    I think it could be a real positive, there is little available for people with a disability and you may find it's a good selling point in future and tenents with disabilities are likely to stay a long time if the place really suits their needs because there is so little available.

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    Jess

    agree strongly as we are living longer and getting older we will jump at a property which is already modified.

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    Interesting perspective. Perhaps I should look further into the potential demand for disability adapted properties. My impression from talking to letting agents is that the demand is too low to justify the works, but I could research this further.

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    Sounds like a real dilemma! You'll get a grant to install it but not to remove it and put the bathroom back to what it was previously. 

    It sounds like the property is getting less appropriate for the trnants longer term needs. Are there any options for sheltered accommodation elsewhere?
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    How long have they been there?

    On a personal level my mum who was disabled, needed to modify the bathroom. She was also assessed by the OT and had to make it in a wet room ripping out the tub and tilling it up to celling, laying a non slip flooring, have  a handle at reach level to support while sitting and getting up.  The only thing is she didn't need the fixed chair.  It was utilised by the whole family as we lived together.  Not once we thought of this as a disabled toilet.  Our mum has passed away and we still use the shower as it is.  We had not changed it, in fact we prefer this, if we ever need to put in a tub we can put in the open ended that doesn't need to be fixed permanently.

    when we intend to move out in the near future we can remove the handles as it will only leave the holes from where the screws removed. These can be resealed with the similar colour as the tiles.

    If they have been in the property for a long time, it does look like the couple want to stick in the area as they have memories and friends, whom they don't want to get away from. They think this is their permanent home. Plus you already said the husband has done some modification to benefit you at the end of the day.  

    Also after reassessing the OT decided to complete modification to make it into wet room instead of just hand rails and OT must have also considered the lift(Incidentally my mum was also assessed for lift and it was not suitable).

    If the modifications do not include fixed chair and big frames for wheel chair access and if you don't mind the house being modified no cost to you(bar £50), you will be helping these good elderly.  

    As I said this is my personal experience so if I had a tenant with these requirements I not think twice and would like to help them. Sometimes we need to think outside of being investors, be it if we have one or more properties.

    I would cross the bridge when it comes to re-rent or re-sell.

    Not trying to put emotional thoughts in to you or maybe I am, just think if she was your mum would you tell her to move out.

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    I hear what you are saying about helping people. I've been of this mindset before and unfortunately I was taken advantage of, most recently by a single mother who left me with roughly £2,000 in rent arrears and over £1,000 in legal bills.

    I have to balance wanting to help people with looking after my investments. It's tricky.

    I'm also slightly concerned that if something goes wrong and the council pulls out half-way through I may be left with the bill for £3,500. The cost of maintenance may also be higher with a disabled bathroom, for example if I have to remove tiles to carry out repairs.

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    My last but one tenant was dss scrounger who also left me with hefty bills during and after. Besides your current tenants do DIY as per your own confession.

    Once the council has given the go ahead they should be honouring it.

    How often do you have to repairs, where you have to take tiles off.

    Talk to the tenants they seem approachable together you might come up with some sort of plan that's best for both parties.

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    Hi Tony,

    You are right to be concerned about this adjustment to your property. As much as it is advantageous that the council will be funding and doing these works, it will affect the attraction to your property if you were to let or re-sell later down the line. Alternatively, your tenants may have to move out of the property if you do not allow this to find alternative accommodation that facilitates their requirements. You also need to consider the fact that their property options would be fairly limited once it was all changed over, so you may have a tenanted in the property for a very long time! Not a bad prospect really!

    Ultimately, it would be your business decision as to which is more valuable - a long term happy tenant (and income) or a house that will sell better one day.

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    Lucy Donovan

    Partnership & Investment Executive

    Platinum Property Partners

    l.donovan@platinumpartners.co.uk