Do you need to alter the communal areas of your block?

Disabled Access Day first held in 2015 provides a timely reminder of how challenging life can be for some people.

Covid meant it  was cancelled in 2021, but we hope to see it revived in future years and that more properties – from shops, theatres, fitness centres and restaurants – will consider going the extra mile and make their facilities easily accessible.

Under the Equality Act 2010, as the director of a Residential Management Company or Residents Association, or if you are a freeholder of a block of flats, you have a statutory duty to allow reasonable adaptions to the communal areas of the block where a request is made by a resident leaseholder.

All residents have the right to be consulted before adaptations can be made to any communal areas. This includes a consultation process involving all ‘affected persons’ and usually culminate in a written agreement as to how the adaptations will be made.

A simple access ramp or grab rails are unlikely to cause consternation, but sometimes widening doors or installing stair lifts may cause significant disruption for a few days or more.   Not least, don’t forget to make sure your insurer is aware of any alterations – proposed, during and after the work is complete.

The costs are usually met by the individual requesting the alterations, who most likely will also warrant that the building will be reinstated to its original condition if they move away.

And what if a resident wants to make internal alterations to their flat?  Most leases contain a covenant against alterations or improvements.  Typical wording includes “not to make any alterations to the demised premises without the landlord’s consent.”  Once again, the golden rule of leasehold flat living applies:  “always check the lease”.


FP27-2017                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          First published 30 January 2017                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Updated 27 October 2021

The sole purpose of this article is to provide guidance on the issues covered. This article is not intended to give legal advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. We make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or in the links which were live at the date of publication. You should not act upon (or should refrain from acting upon) information in this publication without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited trading as Deacon accepts no liability for any inaccuracy, omission or mistake in this publication, nor will we be responsible for any loss which may be suffered as a result of any person relying on the information contained herein.