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When everyone has a home

Housing and debt helpline for Northern Ireland – 028 9024 5640

ADVISER: Arguing for adequate disabled parking spaces

Susan is a housing association tenant who came to us through NIACRO floating support. Susan lives in supported accommodation due to extensive disability needs.
 
Because Susan receives the high-rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance, she has been provided with a car through the motability scheme. The car has been adapted for her use, and contains a hoist for a mobility scooter. The car provides Susan with an essential lifeline, allowing her much greater independence. Susan's problem in her new housing association property was the lack of disabled parking for residents. The scheme only had two dedicated disabled parking spaces and there were a total of eight residents in the complex with disabled parking badges. There were a total of 20 apartments in the scheme and the parking garage was shared by a neighbouring complex,which held another 22 apartments. The lack of designated parking meant that Susan often had to park quite far away from the entrance to the building and she ended up falling more than 14 times while walking from her car to the building entrance. At one point Susan was hospitalised with pneumonia following a particularly bad fall.
 
Susan contacted NIACRO for support who, in turn, contact Housing Rights. Our adviser met with Susan to find out more about the situation. During this meeting Susan explained that the parking spaces were frequently subject to misuse, particularly by visitors and carers attending the complex. Housing Rights submitted a formal complaint to the housing provider, outlining the nature of the difficulties and the inadequacy of the parking arrangements. In its response, the housing provider did not accept the parking was inadequate and relied on parking policies in support of this.
 

Formal complaint criticising inadequate parking arrangements

Housing Rights obtained further medical evidence on behalf of the client, and researched additional legal principles and case law. A second stage formal complaint was then submitted. The housing provider accepted the complaint at this point, and put a number of beneficial changes in to practice in the scheme. Of note, the number of disabled spaces was increased from two to eight. The housing provider also negotiated a written agreement with the neighbouring complex, outlining the limits of their parking entitlement and specifically excluding certain bays from this use. The housing officer also made contact with each of the care companies who had been seen misusing the parking spaces available.
 
Susan is now able to park in an adequate space for her needs, and is once again able to enjoy the freedom and independence that her motability vehicle allows. 

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Social Tenancies, Practical tips, Adviser