Disability aids and equipment
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Can my housing association take my mobility scooter and destroy it ?

 When I signed my tenancy and moved into my flat I informed them I had a mobility scooter as well as my wheelchair and two elbow crutches I asked if that was going to be an issue they said no although on my tenancy agreement it does state nothing should be left in the communal areas I have nowhere to store my mobility scooter so it has been in the communal hallway since November 2015 , someone from the housing association  asked me if that was my bike I told them it isn’t a bike it is a mobility scooter they said at the moment isn’t an issue but they wanted me to have an occupational therapy assessment to prove that I needed the scooter and then they might consider erecting a wooden structure or shed in English LOL .  I had the OT assessment and she said of course I need to mobility scooter and she said it was impossible to keep in my one-bedroom flat as there is no room and it would be a fire hazard to me but my housing association put a notice on the mobility scooter on 12th September saying if it is still in the communal area by Monday, the 17th of September 2018It will be treated as abandoned and they will take it away and destroy it I don’t know how I stand legally because I have already asked their permission in writing to erect a shed, 

Replies

  • MatildaMatilda Member Posts: 2,616 Disability Gamechanger
    Probably this is an idle threat to get you to move the scooter.  But in case not can you keep the scooter in your flat while you contact housing association, tell them result of OT assessment and ask if they are going to put up a shed?
  • brummieinbristolbrummieinbristol Member Posts: 1 Listener
    a shed isn't really an answer as if your scooter is like mine it has to be plugged in all the time. also, how else would you access it if it wasn't close by. I would have a word with CAB and see if they have any suggestions
  • GeoarkGeoark Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,298 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Angiebabes2410

    First the bad news is it is unlikely to be an empty threat. However they cannot just take it and destroy it as it is not abandoned and they will be in breach of Tort law. First thing Monday I would suggest you contact your landlord and ask to speak to your neighbourhood officer or someone in their own team to inform them of this and you will be contacting CAB or Legal Centre if you have one near you for further advice. This should stop the immediate threat, but not the problem. They should then put another notice on the scooter saying when they will be back, if your scooter is still there after this time they should remove it and put it into temporary storage with a time limit before it will be disposed off.

    If you have an OT report saying you need to have the scooter then this needs to go into your housing association.

    Bottom line is unless it is in your lease or tenancy agreement (unlikely) the communal areas should be kept clear and are not an extension of your home. You have also identified one reason why storing mobility scooters are not allowed in communal areas - 'and it would be a fire hazard to me'

    Also as mentioned they would consider, so unfortunately no guarantee, but many social landlords would not even consider it. Landlords started getting a lot more proactive on this sort of thing after Lakanal House and more so since Grenfell Tower.

    Please don't get me wrong, it is not that I am unsympathetic, but realistically unless you come to some arrangement with your landlord it is likely it will be removed at some point. 

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • UniqueearthlingUniqueearthling Member Posts: 5 Listener
     When I signed my tenancy and moved into my flat I informed them I had a mobility scooter as well as my wheelchair and two elbow crutches I asked if that was going to be an issue they said no although on my tenancy agreement it does state nothing should be left in the communal areas I have nowhere to store my mobility scooter so it has been in the communal hallway since November 2015 , someone from the housing association  asked me if that was my bike I told them it isn’t a bike it is a mobility scooter they said at the moment isn’t an issue but they wanted me to have an occupational therapy assessment to prove that I needed the scooter and then they might consider erecting a wooden structure or shed in English LOL .  I had the OT assessment and she said of course I need to mobility scooter and she said it was impossible to keep in my one-bedroom flat as there is no room and it would be a fire hazard to me but my housing association put a notice on the mobility scooter on 12th September saying if it is still in the communal area by Monday, the 17th of September 2018It will be treated as abandoned and they will take it away and destroy it I don’t know how I stand legally because I have already asked their permission in writing to erect a shed, 

  • UniqueearthlingUniqueearthling Member Posts: 5 Listener
    When i have conversations with people of importance i tape it and i then have a record, all phones have this facility even my old nokia. if on PIP then get one that will do long conversations, cheap on Ebay. And some i tell i have and i tell them that i don't care they are on my phone or in my house and i can do what i want, no one has ever questioned me.. Also i go to my MP, newspapers, ombudsman, TV. tell them all the story. And also your local councillor, you are able to write it as you have on here. Never give up. And i tell you what i have found, that prejudice against scooters is rife, buy a power chair, you get more respect and people believe your disabled. Not right i know but i was so abused on my scooter, that i was lazy and over weight and that i wouldn't need it if i was none of these things. Put yourself in nasty peoples minds and you will be surprised at how they think. i have brittle bones and bad balance. let alone hashimoto's, Sjogrens, Raynauds, Tremors suspected Parkinson's, Chronic fatigue. Just had cancer, and many more problems, which often makes me immobile. 
  • MatildaMatilda Member Posts: 2,616 Disability Gamechanger
    It is now the law that common internet areas of blocks of flats have to be kept free of any items that could catch fire or block evacuation in the event of a fire.  But there are different approaches to the implementation of this.  Your landlord's approach is very unreasonable and you might want to make a complaint.

    We have a similar issue in the block I live.  There was no disabled equipment in the common areas but there were bikes, prams etc. The managing agent who after all works for the individual flat owners here not the other way round put notices on some items stating that if they weren't removed the items would be disposed of and the owners charged for the disposal (always assuming the agents could identify the owners)!

    I don't think the agents would dare to take such action, which would be illegal.  And of course the owners could end the agents' contract.  Though your case is different as you appear to be tenants not owners and the landlords would have more power.
  • GeoarkGeoark Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,298 Disability Gamechanger
    @Matilda as long as the appropriate notice and procedures are followed then it is not illegal.

    Yes you could terminate the contract with the current agent and possibly find one that is happy to ignore their legal obligations. Just to confirm though as the freeholders you could each be held jointly and individually responsible if the worse happens.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • MatildaMatilda Member Posts: 2,616 Disability Gamechanger
    @Geoark

    You have misunderstood what I have said and are being patronising. No one intends to ignore regulations.  As I've said, we object to the agents' dictatorial attitude. There are diplomatic ways of implementing regulations.
  • TopkittenTopkitten Member Posts: 1,263 Pioneering
    I agree with one or two of the comments. It is likely to be contravening the fire evacuation access. I don't have any real advice but I think you must make sure you get every decision they make "in writing" in future to make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen again once it's sorted.

    TK
    "I'm on the wrong side of heaven and the righteous side of hell" - from Wrong side of heaven by Five Finger Death Punch.
  • GeoarkGeoark Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,298 Disability Gamechanger
    @Matilda

    No, that is not what you said. You made it clear in this position the freeholders hold the power and made clear they could exercise that right if the agent went ahead with something they did not like.

    You say no one intends to ignore the regulations, but your opening sentence was 'It is now the law that common internet areas of blocks of flats have to be kept free of any items that could catch fire or block evacuation in the event of a fire.' so yes some at least are choosing to ignore the regulations.

    I am sorry you felt I was trying to be patronising as that was not my intention.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • GeoarkGeoark Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,298 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Topkitten

    While I agree with getting anything agreed in writing, it would not be set in stone. Changes in legislation and regulations would supercede any local agreement.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • Jean_OTJean_OT Member Posts: 532 Pioneering
    Hi @Angiebabes2410

    Thank you for posting about your experience with this issue. I am hearing similar stories from a number of different sources around the county.

    This is a difficult situation for you but I think @Geoark has already summarised it well.

    You were aware from the start that your contract stated that communal areas need to be kept clear. 'A blind eye' has been turned to you keeping your scooter in the communal space for sometime but that doesn't change your rights or responsibilities. You are going to need to find an alternative solution to meeting your mobility needs.

    In the stark light of Genfell no responsible landlord, letting agent, building manager, tenants association etc, is going to be willing to ignore fire hazards in communal areas. In the worst case scenario this would result in them having to explain to the Coroners Court how their inaction had resulted in deaths. The risk of having items in communal areas is very real, it can potentially start a fire, provide fuel to a fire and aid the generation of noxious smoke, it may hinder emergency personal entering the building as they try to move around the obstacles often in the dark wearing breathing gear carrying bulky gear and it can also hinder people evacuating the building especially people with mobility impairments who are being carried out.

    I don't think any of us would really want to live in a building where those responsible for fire safety ignored their obligations.

    Many disabled people are currently having to negotiate new alternatives to storing disability equipment to communal spaces. Certainly, some landlords are being more reasonable and considerate than others but ultimately communal areas need to be kept clear. Due process needs to be followed but it is lawful for them to remove items left in communal areas in breech  tenancy agreements and they can charge the tenant for doing so.

    Your September 17th deadline has now been passed, so have you been able to find a solution or negotiate some extra time to find a solution?

    I have heard of landlords who have been very helpful, facilitating appropriate secure parking and charging facilities. But equally I have heard of other people who have had to get rid of their mobility scooter all together or replace it with an electric wheelchair or smaller scooter that they can store within the confines of their own property. I have also spoken to someone who felt that the only solution available to them was to get rehoused, their OT was supporting their application but in the meantime their ability to access the community was very limited and their scooter was locked in a friends garage. 

    Hope you have been able to agree a solution that meets yours needs.

    Best wishes

    Jean

       

    Jean Merrilees BSc MRCOT

    You can read more of my posts at: https://community.scope.org.uk/categories/ask-an-occupational-therapist

  • MatildaMatilda Member Posts: 2,616 Disability Gamechanger
    @Geoark

    You are reading into my OP what isn't there; you are reading what you want to be there.  That is your problem.  But I haven't got time to argue with people who have tunnel vision.  I am not concerned about your erroneous interpretation of my OP.  I live here, you don't, so I know what happens here, you don't. 
  • MatildaMatilda Member Posts: 2,616 Disability Gamechanger
    @Jean_Scope

    Many of these issues are not clear.

    Could the removers legally 'dispose of' items they have removed?

    The removers could not charge the resident or landlord owner concerned if they were unable to identify them (i.e they didn't know who had left the item in question in the common area).

    It might not be clear just who is responsible for clearing the common areas.  For example, we, the long leaseholders here, have our own management company but we contract managing agents.  The agents should act on our instructions, not the other way around.
  • MarkmywordsMarkmywords Member Posts: 418 Pioneering
    Matilda said:
    @Jean_Scope

    Many of these issues are not clear.

    Could the removers legally 'dispose of' items they have removed?

    The removers could not charge the resident or landlord owner concerned if they were unable to identify them (i.e they didn't know who had left the item in question in the common area).

    It might not be clear just who is responsible for clearing the common areas.  For example, we, the long leaseholders here, have our own management company but we contract managing agents.  The agents should act on our instructions, not the other way around.

    Any such actions would have to be agreed beforehand in the lease, rental agreement or a covenant in a deed. In that case it would be legal.
    If it is not already in a contract then confiscation would be criminal theft plus civil damage. Even a threat would be actionable.
  • MatildaMatilda Member Posts: 2,616 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you, @Markmywords

    As far as I am aware, there is nothing specifically in the long leases about items left in common areas.  The leases were drawn up 40 years ago when there was far less fire safety risk regulation for blocks of flats.  I don't know the contents of sub-lessees' tenancy agreements but I doubt there's anything about items in common areas.  There is no deed.  Of course the current laws apply.  It's a question of how removal of items is implemented.
  • Angiebabes2410Angiebabes2410 Member Posts: 70 Courageous
    Thank you everyone for your advice and concerns firstly I have never put my scooter in anyone's way there are two doors to go out from one is classed as the back door which is supposed to be a fire exit my scooter was either under the stairs where nobody could trip over it or it was next to the communal plug socket against the wall at the side of the door nobody could trip over it it wasn't blocking any exit I do have consideration for my neighbours safety as well as my own the way my building is my neighbours upstairs would come down the stairs and go straight out of the door next to my front door they wouldn't turn and go along the length of the communal hallway to go through the backdoor where my scooter is in the event of a fire they would leave by the easiest quickest route I understand that fire regulations someone even suggested that I go to speak to the fire officer and ask his opinion I have now had my paperwork from the occupational therapist I have also seen my local GP who is writing a letter to confirm my disabilities I went straight to Citizens Advice Bureau on Friday morning after more than an hour they said there was nothing they could do they couldn't even offer me any advice I am looking into the Equality Advisory Service a lady from there gave me some suggestions I am also going to contact my MP I am looking on the internet for advice I have emailed my housing association asking for their consideration to allow me to keep the scooter in the communal area until they give me the outcome of my application to erect a shed I asked them if it could please have electricity going from my flat to the shed so that I can charge my scooter from the shed the thing is my neighbour next door and two of his visitors have push bikes that are very often left blocking the entire communal hallway for quite some time then my neighbour upstairs leaves black bags of rubbish outside her door so that when her visitor comes to see her he takes it out to the bin store even though she passes the Beanstalk everytime she goes out in her car all of my neighbours at some point dumped large items in the communal bin store and it took me over 2 years of asking the housing association to remove these items including a fridge and a double mattress a broken table chairs wardrobe chest of drawers lots of things that could be a health hazard I asked if they would be able to have someone clean the communal bins because they stink because before I moved here I was living in a house and I would pay someone to clean my bin after its been emptied on a regular basis but these beans have never been cleaned once in 3 years.
    I have also told my housing association that I am prepared to move to a more suitable accommodation at a cost to them because if they are now saying that this property is not suitable for someone with a disability then they shouldn't have offered it to me in the first place I did tell them the day I signed my tenancy that I had these mobility issues and they said it wasn't a problem I didn't realise it was going to take this long for an occupational therapy assessment and I didn't think that my housing association would be so cruel as to wait until the week after I apply for permission to erect a shed to slap a piece of paper on my scooter to say that this item is going to be disposed off after the week commencing the 17th September that was giving me no time at all I've had someone come out already to measure and to take pictures of where they think a shed would be most suitable and they are prepared to put it up for me so I just have to wait now to see what my housing association are going to say with regards to the shed because long-term I cannot leave my mobility scooter in my hallway because in the event of a fire I would never get out with my wheelchair while the scooter is in the way
  • MatildaMatilda Member Posts: 2,616 Disability Gamechanger
    This is another example of how inadequate facilities for the disabled are, in housing and in general. 

    I hope you get this issue resolved satisfactorily soon.
  • Angiebabes2410Angiebabes2410 Member Posts: 70 Courageous
    a shed isn't really an answer as if your scooter is like mine it has to be plugged in all the time. also, how else would you access it if it wasn't close by. I would have a word with CAB and see if they have any suggestions
    The CAB told me they had no advice for me
  • Bruno44Bruno44 Member Posts: 2 Connected
    I live in a housing association flat, Mobility scooters are becoming a real issue in many communal areas of blocks of flats due to modern updated fire regulations. We have just had a fire inspection at my block of flats (Independent Living). Unfortunately we have been told that our fire officer has advised our housing association that scooters should not be allowed in communal areas under any circumstances due to the batteries being a fire risk plus the possibility of being a obstruction during a fire evacuation. Some of us with larger scooters have issues because the scooters won't go into our flats without major door widening and people on the first floor have other major problems with storage as they cant get the scooters up the stairs and our block does not have a lift. The association is now looking at external charging sockets which is not really the answer as the scooters will then be stored outside. I am personally looking into permission for a shed to store my scooter.
  • April2018momApril2018mom Member - under moderation Posts: 2,882 Member - under moderation
    Bruno44 said:
    I live in a housing association flat, Mobility scooters are becoming a real issue in many communal areas of blocks of flats due to modern updated fire regulations. We have just had a fire inspection at my block of flats (Independent Living). Unfortunately we have been told that our fire officer has advised our housing association that scooters should not be allowed in communal areas under any circumstances due to the batteries being a fire risk plus the possibility of being a obstruction during a fire evacuation. Some of us with larger scooters have issues because the scooters won't go into our flats without major door widening and people on the first floor have other major problems with storage as they cant get the scooters up the stairs and our block does not have a lift. The association is now looking at external charging sockets which is not really the answer as the scooters will then be stored outside. I am personally looking into permission for a shed to store my scooter.
    Do you have a advocate or not?
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Administrator Posts: 7,554 Scope community team
    Thanks for sharing this @Bruno44. The block a good friend of mine lives in (also no lift) has an area underneath the stairs where the residents store mobility scooters. The association has now decided to fill the space in to prevent anybody storing anything. Obviously I understand the risk of fire and many of these items can contribute to fire load, but very little thought has been given to where else they could be stored.
    Please let us know how you get on as I'd be interested in hearing what happens.
    Senior Community Partner
    Scope

    If you have a few minutes to spare, we'd appreciate your feedback on our online community.
  • Bruno44Bruno44 Member Posts: 2 Connected
    edited August 2019

     After spending a great deal of time researching alternative ideas in search of a solution regarding the problem many of us have about mobility scooter storage and the lack of support or help from my housing association staff I feel that I, like many of you, am alone with regards to finding a easy and manageable solution. My housing association have point blank refused to make any arrangements for the storage of such vehicles at my scheme and the only thing they are prepared to consider is outside charging points, which in truth are not solving the real problem.

    What is even more infuriating is I have learned that other schemes within the association have had facilities made available in the past therefore one would assume that a precedent had already been set. I am under the distinct impression that the whole issue is budget related, in financial outlay and manpower, including time allocation from a managerial point to deal with what is fast becoming a problem/issue for many schemes and associations. My own Housing association manage sixteen sheltered/Independent living properties within my immediate area of five or six miles which makes many of us think that our association is making it a issue that they do not really want to deal with and that they are avoiding further precedents. The reason they may not want to deal with it is possibly due to not only the financial aspect but the extra time and man-power required to manage the whole issue across the many schemes nationally within the housing group. This is in spite of their mission statement below, here is what they say on their web page:

     

    Quote:

     

    Equality and Diversity

    "We recognise that certain groups in society are disadvantaged and that they often do not have equal access to jobs and services. In the provision of housing services and employment of staff to provide these services, we will always seek to ensure that we treat every individual according to their needs".

    Sponsorship and charity

    "We are committed to supporting and enhancing the communities we serve through the sponsorship of local charities and community groups"

     

    So, this will be my polite reply to them at the next “House Meeting”.

    "Disability groups are certainly disadvantaged by default and as a housing association they state they will always seek to ensure that they treat every individual according to their needs. Oh dear. Well I must tell you Mr Housing association that my disability needs are NOT being met by you and you are in fact avoiding those needs, in spite of precedents that have been set elsewhere”.

    This has been a long term ongoing problem for many of us, however, from past experience I do not for-see any advancement regarding this problem in the immediate future, it will no doubt be just another day with the same old rubbish giving us the same old disadvantages using the same old excuses. This problem is on the agenda for discussion at the next house meeting and I will try to post again with results of the house meeting.

    Regards ...Bruno


  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Administrator Posts: 10,643 Scope community team
    Hi @Bruno44 and thank you for sharing this with us all. I really hope the next house meeting goes well and please do keep us updated. If there is anything we can do in the meantime then please do ask. :)
    Community Partner
    Scope

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  • david235david235 Member Posts: 170 Pioneering
    I admire your ongoing campaign @Bruno44 and hope you get an appropriate response from the Housing Association.


    I think it is important, though, to point out that no precedent in a legal sense is established by decisions the Housing Association has made at other schemes. The Equality Act 2010 contains a duty to make reasonable adjustments in relation to the common parts of let premises, but this duty has not been brought into operation and is therefore of no legal effect (it is section 36(1)(d) - note carefully the "Commencement Information"). Even if this duty was in effect, reasonableness would be determined separately for each scheme, with decisions at other schemes merely giving some indication of what might be reasonable.

    It could be claimed that a decision to bar mobility scooters from communal areas is indirect discrimination against mobility impaired disabled people contrary to the section 35(1)(a) Equality Act 2010 requirement not to discriminate in the way that the manager allows or disallows the use of a benefit or faciilty. It would be indirect discrimination because the ban on mobility scooters applies to everyone, but disproportionately affects mobility impaired disabled people. However, indirect discrimination is lawful if the policy can be objectively justified - if scooters are potentially in an evacuation route and/or are being charged in a stairwell, then this arguably provides ample justification for a ban on them being stored and charged in communal areas.


    This issue has affected so many disabled people who have been able to live satisfactorily whilst a blind eye was turned to the scooter, but now face enforcement action by their landlord / managing agent that leaves them unable to store and/or charge their scooter. The publication of the National Fire Chief's Council guidance on mobility scooters in residential buildings was a wake-up call to landlords and managing agents. The recommended approaches in paragraph 15.6 are typically costly in terms of space and resources. Any purpose built or adapted internal storage and charging room recommended to have 60 minute fire-resisting construction, fire-resisting self-closing doors and automatic fire detection.
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