Abode Impact’s new report, Accessibility is the Key, has revealed that over 90% of wheelchair users have experienced barriers to accessing housing in the Private Rented Sector (PRS).

There are 1.2 million wheelchair users in the UK today, but the UK Private Rented Sector is failing to provide wheelchair accessible homes, according to the report.

The findings show that some wheelchair users have no option but to seek social housing or stay in a home that fails to meet their needs. One survey respondent said that they are unable to leave the house on their own and have to be carried down the stairs.

Of respondents, 4 in 5 are currently living in a home that does not fully meet their needs as a wheelchair user, 91% have experienced barriers to accessing the PRS and 62% said this was due to a lack of accessible properties. Another respondent commented that a “rental agent withdrew my offer when I turned up in a wheelchair”.

In the age of Generation Rent, wheelchair users in particular are chronically underserved. 50% of respondents said they would like to privately rent a home, but only 18% are currently living in the PRS.

The Abode Impact research, funded by Commonweal Housing, surveyed 448 wheelchair-user households and gained insight from social housing providers to provide an investment case for accessible housing.

In response to the demand for accessible rental accommodation, Abode Impact will launch the first accessible housing fund for London next year. The fund is targeting social impact and financial returns by purchasing one and two-bedroom newly built accessible homes for private rent.

As Abode Impact’s research shows, if a home meets the needs of a wheelchair user, they are more likely to stay in their home for longer. Investors can therefore benefit from the low tenant turnover and a reliable source of income; while tenants experience the benefits of improved mental, physical and financial well-being by living in an accessible home.

Abode Impact is inviting wheelchair users who are looking to privately rent an accessible home in London to register their interest via their website: http://abodeimpact.co.uk/register-your-interest/

Eleanor Bowden, Chief Executive of Abode Impact, said: “We are on a mission to enable greater choice and independence for wheelchair users looking to privately rent.

“Our research shows that there are a significant number of wheelchair users who would like to privately rent an accessible home, so we will use large-scale investment to purchase more of this type of housing. This is challenging the misconception in the property market that wheelchair users are reliant on state support and social housing.

“We are proud to publish this research, and to be making a difference for the many wheelchair users struggling to find a home to rent.” 

Brian Carlin, Chief Executive of Aspire, said: “Aspire’s own research has highlighted not only the lack of wheelchair-accessible homes in the UK, but also the significant negative impact that living in unsuitable accommodation can have on disabled people. With 86% of people with Spinal Cord Injury likely to be discharged into totally unsuitable accommodation, we welcome Abode Impact’s plans to encourage investment into accessible properties for private rental.” 

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