If you provide services to the public, you are legally required to take reasonable steps to ensure that the physical features of your business premises do not make it unreasonably difficult or impossible for people with disabilities to make use of your service.
Before you make any significant alterations or changes to your property, you should check whether or not you require planning permission or building regulations approval.
Find out about applying for planning permission in your local area.
Making changes to rented premises
If you rent your business property, you usually need to get consent from your landlord before you make any significant alterations to enable disabled people to access and use your premises.
You must request consent for any alterations to accommodate disabled people even if the terms of your lease state that no alterations to the property are allowed. The Disability Discrimination Act allows the terms of the lease to be read so as to entitle you to make the alteration with the consent of your landlord.
Procedure for requesting consent from your landlord
You should make a written application for consent from your landlord to make alterations to rental your property to allow disabled people to access and use your business premises.
You should also include all plans and specifications with your applications so as to avoid any possible delays.
Once your landlord has received your application he or she has eight weeks to respond.
Your landlord should not unreasonably withhold consent. But they may set certain conditions that you should carry out before you make any alterations. These include:
- gaining planning permission from your local authority
- carrying out alterations in accordance with plans and specification
- allowing the landlord to inspect the works
- reimbursing, within reason, any costs the landlord may have incurred in giving consent
If your landlord does not respond to your request within eight weeks, you can assume that he or she has withheld consent. You should then refer the matter to the county court.
Similarly if your landlord refuses to give you consent, or sets other conditions, again, you should refer the matter to the county court. The court will decide whether the landlord is reasonable in refusing consent.