The Act comes into force in October. Schedule 4 to the Act contains a new obligation on landlords in respect of common parts. It arises out of the Court of Appeal decision in Williams v Richmond Court (Swansea) Ltd (2007). In that instance an elderly tenant in a block of flats had difficulty negotiating the communal stairs to reach her flat. She therefore asked the landlord for permission to install a stair lift. The landlord refused. The court decided there had been no breach of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995: the landlord would have refused consent to any tenant making the request so it could not be said therefore that it had discriminated against the tenant when refusing consent. The fact that an able-bodied tenant would not have made the request to install a lift did not seem relevant to the court's considerations.
Schedule 4 now entitles a disabled tenant or occupier of premises which is "the person's only or main home" to request the landlord to take reasonable steps so the tenant does not suffer a disadvantage as a consequence of a physical feature in the common areas. The landlord needs to decide if the steps proposed are reasonable. In so doing it must consult with all persons whom it thinks will be affected by the proposals e.g. other tenants in the building. If the landlord decides the steps are reasonable, it must enter into an agreement with the disabled tenant with regard to the costs of any works or installations and their removal when the disabled tenant ceases to reside at the premises. The schedule makes it clear that it is reasonable for the landlord to insist the tenant pays for the cost of the works and their removal.