This page is targeted at housing professionals. Our main site is at

Disabled people: finding suitable accommodation

This content applies to England

This section considers the options for disabled adults who wish to move to more suitable accommodation.

The wide range of types of disability and the various ways in which disability affects people's lives means that many different housing options may be suitable. With support or adaptations it may be possible for a disabled person to live in any type of housing. There are also specific types of accommodation, available via local authorities or private registered providers of social housing, which might be appropriate for disabled people.

Meeting care and support needs

Where a disabled adult needs alternative accommodation to meet her/his care and support needs, s/he can request a needs assessment from social services. For more information, see the page Access to housing with care and support

Rented accommodation

Private rented accommodation usually provides very limited security of tenure, and the landlord's permission is often be required for adaptations to be carried out. These factors may make this type of accommodation unsuitable for a disabled person.

Local authority accommodation

In addition to general purpose housing that could be suitable after it is adapted, or with the provision of floating support, local authorities may provide the following types of specialist housing:

  • wheelchair housing
  • mobility housing
  • sheltered housing.

Allocation of these types of housing is usually be via the local authority allocations scheme. See Allocation of housing by local authorities.

Wheelchair housing

This is designed to give people using wheelchairs access to all principal rooms including the bathroom and to allow full use of all the facilities.

Mobility housing

This is designed for disabled people who are not confined to a wheelchair, but whose mobility is limited. The entrance should be level or ramped and the corridors and doors should be wide enough for a wheelchair. The bathroom and at least one of the bedrooms should be on the same level as the entrance.

Sheltered housing

This consists of groups of flats with a warden and is mainly intended for older people. Very few sheltered housing schemes exist for younger disabled people. Sheltered housing schemes may include both wheelchair and mobility housing.

For more on Sheltered housing, see the page Older people: moving to suitable accommodation.

Supported housing

Under the Housing Act 1988, private registered providers of social housing (PRPSHs) may be funded by local authorities to provide housing facilities for people with disabilities. Often the PRPSH works with specific voluntary organisations, with the PRPSH providing the accommodation while specialist agencies provide care and/or support.

Housing provided by PRPSHs specifically for disabled people can vary in terms of the type of accommodation (ie it can be shared or self-contained), and the level of support provided (there may be staff on the premises 24 hours a day or floating support). Where support is provided, this type of accommodation is usually known as supported housing.

Local authority housing departments should have information on PRPSHs in their area that have accommodation for disabled people. The National Housing Federation and the Homes & Communities Agency can also provide information.

Most permanent tenancies are allocated through local authority allocations schemes. Some private registered providers of social housing may have their own waiting lists, and make an allocation directly. 

For more information, see the page Special needs housing in the section PRPSHs and housing associations.

Home ownership

There are several ways in which disabled people who cannot afford to buy a home outright may be able to access owner-occupied accommodation. These include shared ownership, HomeBuy and the right to buy schemes.

Most of these schemes are not specifically for disabled people, but it may be possible to adapt a property or access care at home to make the property suitable for the person's needs.

See Shared ownership for details of local authorities and housing associations that operate shared ownership schemes.

For more information, see the section Shared ownership and low-cost home ownership.

Care homes

Where a disabled adult has significant care and support needs, social services may recommend a placement in residential care after carrying out a needs assessment. Residential care and nursing homes are now both called care homes and they can be run by local authorities, private companies, individuals, or voluntary organisations. Some provide nursing care and are referred to as 'care homes with nursing'.

See the page Older people: care homes for more information, including paying for a place in a care home.

Hospice care

Hospices may be run by health authorities, NHS trusts, or voluntary organisations. If a local authority wishes to arrange hospice care, it will have to obtain the permission of the health authority.

Hospice care is free and not subject to a local authority charging assessment.


The information on this page applies only to England. Go to Shelter Cymru for information relating to Wales.

Back to top