Getting a stairlift fitted in rented accommodation

By Chris Clayton

It may seem obvious that if you live in a house that you rent and want to buy and install a stairlift, that you need the permission of the owner of the property before getting it fitted. In fact, as a tenant you will have a legal responsibility to inform the landlord before installing one. But every year there are some people who don't. And in a few of these cases, the tenant has to subsequently get the stairlift removed.

Fortunately these cases of removal are rare and most landlords won't force a tenant to remove a stairlift even if it was installed without their prior permission. But even if the landlord has no objections to you installing one, they may take offence to not being consulted first (imagine how you would feel if you were in their position?) and this may damage the relationship between you and them.

To avoid this and reduce the possibility that your landlord says no to your request, below I will explain what I recommend what you should do (and in what order) if you are wanting to install a stairlift into your rented house:

1. Find out what fitting a stairlift involves

There is a likelihood that you landlord will not know what alterations or damage to the house will be involved with a fitting a stairlift. So, you will probably have to explain to them what these will be when telling them you want to install one.

Fortunately, with most modern stairlifts and most installations, no changes to the structure or the fixtures (the things fixed to the walls and floor) of the house will be required. To fit the majority of stairlifts, they only drill a hole through a number of different stairs on the staircase and then bolt the rail/track of the stairlift through them. That's it.

This will cause some minimal damage to the property (a series of small holes through both the carpet and some of the stairs), but nothing else. And when the stairlift is removed, apart from these small holes, there will normally be no other visible sign that a stairlift was ever there.

Although not common in most installations, on some staircases other alterations to staircase or the area around it may need to be made to ensure that stairlift can be used safely (click here to learn what the common alterations are for fitting a stairlift).

2. Get confirmation of what work actual needs to be done

Although you can contact the owner/landlord of the property to ask for permission when you know the above information, I would recommend you wait until you know for sure what actual work (including any alterations) needs to be carried out to install one where you are living.

The only way to find this out is by getting a stairlift company (just one at this stage, you can get more out when you have permission) to come out and assess your staircase to see if a stairlift can be safely fitted. Fortunately, these assessments are free (find out what to expect on site visit by reading my article 'What to expect when your stairs are measured for a stairlift'). Whilst the company representative is at the house, ask them to leave you a signed diagram of what work needs to be done (preferably on a piece of paper with the company's logo on) and their phone number and name so the landlord can contact them for further details.

Then present this to your landlord (it is better to do this in person if you can) and tell them that you want to buy and install a stairlift on their property.

Unless major alterations need to made to install it (which is rare), you'll find most landlords won't object. But even so, I recommend that you get them to confirm their approval in writing. So, when your landlord agrees, politely ask them to send you an email confirming their permission for you to install a stairlift.

3. Start contacting other companies

Once you have permission, you should start getting other stairlift companies to come out and give you quotes. Doing this will substantially reduce what you end up paying for the purchase of the stairlift.

To find out what to do when doing this, read my article 'Lowering the price you pay for a stairlift'.

What you can do if they don't give you permission

In most cases the landlord will consent to the installation of a stairlift, but there are unfortunately some cases when they don't. If this happens to you, you will be presented with the option of either leaving the property or forcing your landlord to accept the installation.

In most countries, there will be regulations which can force a landlord to submit to the installation of a stairlift. This will mean you will have go down a legal route through contacting a solicitor/attorney. But as you can imagine, this can end up costly. So, I would recommend that you first contact the Citizens Advice Bureau in the UK, or if you are in the US, a legal aid organisation. You'll be able to find out through these organisations where you stand legally on forcing you landlord to submit to the installation and what actions you can take.