Month: October 2016

man being shook for moneyChanges to tax laws that govern buy-to-let properties have landlords up in arms. The planned buy-to-let tax is deemed unfair because it targets private landlords who have buy-to-let properties in their own names and doesn’t target companies that invest in rental properties. Furthermore, tax will be on turnover rather than profit, which will eat into incomes. Landlords also won’t be able to claim buy-to-let costs as business expenses.

Cherie Booth Blair QC and QC Conor Quigley represent buy-to-let landlords in the fight against the changes. Unfortunately, they recently lost an attempt to win a judicial review because the high court’s Mr. Justice Dingemans believes the case is bound to fail.

The fight will continue, but private landlords should probably prepare themselves for the phasing in period, which starts in 2017.

Private landlords are an easy target – again

According to Ms. Booth Blair, government is unfairly penalising private buy-to- let property owners by singling them out while corporate investors keep enjoying various tax perks. Landlords, who include Ms. Booth Blair, said they would keep engaging with the government until the inherent unfairness of the changes is understood.

Axe the Tax coalition is another group fighting for equality in the buy-to-let market. The coalition represents over 150,000 private landlords who are deeply unhappy with the new tax laws. Coalition representatives said the new tax will increase rent rates to mitigate the inevitable losses the changes will bring. Furthermore, the representatives believe other potential consequences include landlords losing their properties or having to exit the market.

According to the National Landlords Association’s Chief Executive Richard Lambert, the court’s decision is ultimately disappointing. This is because it affects private landlords and their tenants, who face an increase in their rent.

The other side of the argument

In opposition, Timothy Brennan QC, who represents HM Revenue & Customs and the Treasury, believes Mr Justice Dingemans made the correct decision because the case does not concern public interest.

Betsy Dilner heads the campaign group Generation Rent, which represents tenants and thwarted first time buyers. The group believes the old tax system favoured people who bought homes to make a profit rather than those needing somewhere to live. The changes will give people who have been shut out of the housing market an opportunity to get on the property ladder.

The times they are a’challenging

Private landlords have faced sharp increases in costs of late, due to legislative changes that include the 3% stamp duty. Now percentage of mortgage tax relief available is down a whopping 15%. Between 2017 and 2020 tax relief will from 45% to 20%.

Cherie Booth Blair says that the legal process is just one aspect of her clients’ fight against the new tax law. The Axe the Tax coalition will continue lobbying for the abolishment of the unfair new form of taxation on buy-to-let property owners. They argue the new changes are ‘unlawful, unreasonable and discriminatory’.

The coalition representatives, Steve Bolton and Chris Cooper, issued a joint statement announcing their outrage at the court’s decision. They claim the court missed the opportunity to protect tenants, landlords and the housing market from the disastrous consequences of changing Section 24 of the Finance Act 2015. They cite Ireland as an example of what can go wrong. Ireland introduced a similar system which resulted in an average rental increase of 50% over 3 years. Clearly this does not favour tenants, and in a housing market that is as strapped as ours, surely we can’t afford to push more people out of their homes?

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Children Finger PaintingIn the UK there are approximately 80,000 disabled children under the age of 16. This is about one in every 20. However, it’s difficult to get an accurate picture because historical data is thin on the ground. What data is available shows an increase in disability among children and adolescents over the past 30 years.

Learning disabilities are the most common disabilities affecting UK children. In many cases, a different impairment indirectly affects learning, for example, blindness. Almost half of blind or partially sighted children have additional disabilities and special educational needs. In 2013, statistics published by Papworth Trust indicated that 410,000 children up to 19 years of age have a learning disability. More boys than girls have learning disabilities, especially in the 0 to 7 years old age-group.

Other common disabilities affecting children include memory, communication, concentration, mobility and social cues, including the ability to recognise when they’re in danger.

Public awareness

According to Papworth study on disability in the UK, more work is needed to make the general public more aware of the extent and needs of disabled people. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 UK citizens are affected directly and far more indirectly by disability. There have been significant changes in attitude and policies regarding disability. However, we’re still falling short when it comes to the practical implementation of solutions.

Another problem is that not many people fully understand what constitutes a disability. The Disability Discrimination Act defines disability in children as “a limiting long-standing illness (12 months and more), disability or infirmity, experiencing significant difficulties or health problems including those who have such difficulties when not on medication”.

We’ve already said that the incidence of disability in children is rising. There are several potential contributing factors, including medical advances that make it easier to identify disabilities. Improved social services also provide enough support for families to nurture infants with disabilities, allowing them to live beyond original estimations of life expectancy. Finally, improved general awareness encourages people to get help for and report disabilities in the family.

However, only 8% of families take advantage of financial support from social services. This is problematic because it costs up to three times as much to raise a child with a disability as an able-bodied child. Statistics show that 60% of children and young people with learning disabilities and mental ill health live in poverty. Disabilities that affect mental and physical functioning compound the problems  as the need for assistance increases exponentially. This is because children often need special motorised wheelchairs with equipment that helps them communicate and even steer.

More about learning disabilities

Child MinderAccording to stats gleaned from Special Education Needs (SEN) assessments, approximately 200,000 children are at the School Action Plus stage. To start off with, what is School Action (SA)?

School Action includes steps to help children who can’t progress at school. Children benefit from extra teachers and different learning materials and equipment. Problems hampering progress include difficulties in core areas, persistent emotional and behavioural difficulties, and sensory and physical problems. Targeted teaching is not enough to help children overcome their learning difficulties.

School Action Plus includes more advanced methods to help children with more severe learning disabilities. In this case, external assistance comes from the LEA’s (local education authority’s) support services, local Health Authority, or Social Services. Assistance includes speech and language therapy and occupational therapy. Schools also consult specialists in autism and children’s’ behavioural needs. School Action Plus involves more detailed planning and more complex interventions.

So, quite a high number of UK children have very special educational needs. In fact, four out of five children have a moderate learning difficulty and one in twenty have profound multiple learning difficulties.

In addition statistics show that children from disadvantaged or compromised environments are more likely to have a learning disability. Some example, children in semi-itinerant cultures, like gypsies and Romani, tend to have moderate and severe learning difficulties.

Making life easier

Communication is one of the biggest problems children with learning disabilities and severe conditions that affect physical ability face. To facilitate communication, the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT), NHS Blackburn with Darwen, and NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) developed a Health and Wellbeing passport.

The passport is in a booklet form and contains vital information in a colourful and informative style. Information includes the child’s likes and dislikes (dislikes hugs, will hold hands), preferred method of communication, and how to reassure them. It also contains their clinical records and medical information, including medication and allergies.

Essentially, the passport helps medical personnel and non-medical people understand the child’s complex needs, so they can provide appropriate support through stressful circumstances.

Wheelchair accessable toiletsWe’ve written about popular sports for people in wheelchairs, but what about wheelchair-bound and other disabled sports fans? Do sports’ stadiums give them easy access so they can watch their favourite sports live? Apparently not, if the sport concerned is football.

There are only seven clubs in the UK which have or will soon have facilities that cater to disabled fans. It’s important to note that it’s not just about accommodating wheelchair users, but a far wider range of disabilities. Southampton, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Leicester City and West Ham are finally considering disabled fans’ special requirements. Improvements include ‘Changing Places’ facilities are accessible toilets with hoist and space for carers to manoeuvre.

Campaign for disabled fans

The Accessible Stadia Guide is a campaign that aims to provide disabled fans with proper facilities to serve their needs. Sadly, as reported in The Telegraph, currently only four clubs can accommodate the minimum recommended numbers for wheelchairs. Some clubs have reneged on their pledge to meet these numbers and still others have indicated can’t commit to the standards by next year.

According to the Premier League’s chief executive, Richard Scudamore, football clubs are working to make their stadiums more accessible to disabled fans. However, the new standards required by the Accessible Stadia Guide are high. So despite progress, there is still some way to go. For now, Scudamore says clubs aim to get as close as possible to meeting the standards, and hope to exceed them by August 2017.

Unfair criticisms?

Despite the shortcomings in stadium accessibility, Scudmore feels many critics overlook Premier League clubs’ community projects. The Premier League funds a number of disability schemes. Paul Kelly runs one of the programmes for Manchester City. Kelly is Manchester City’s disability officer, and the programme reaches over 1,000 disabled people a month. It works with pupils from 44 special needs schools in the Manchester area, encouraging them to participate in football. The aim is to establish disabled football leagues in the area. Kelly has seen children go from playing on poorly maintained Astroturf facilities to playing on the state-of-the-art Etihad Campus. More exciting plans are in the offing.

Stadium seatingOther inclusive programmes include the Kicks programme and Premier League 4 Sport programme. They go back about 15 years and are really beginning to pay off in terms of inclusivity.

Southampton is at the forefront of inclusive programmes and hosts workshops to improve communication with disabled people to improve accessibility. Furthermore, Martin Sinclair, who played for the UK’s cerebral palsy football side in the 2012 Paralympics, works with Southampton’s Foundation to establish a local pan-disability league. Sinclair says it’s impossible to overstate the impact the Premier League clubs can have in improving inclusivity and accessibility.

Taking accessibility seriously  

The Premier League wants to make change happen. So much so that is has partnered with BT Sport to provide a dedicated disability officer at every club. This could prove critical as the Minister for Disabled People, Penny Mordaunt, has effectively placed Premier League clubs on notice to deliver fully accessible toilets and other facilities, such as those outlined in the Accessible Stadia Guide.

It’s important for football clubs not to underestimate the importance of sprucing up their toilets. This is because inaccessible toilets are perhaps the biggest reason disabled people avoid watching games live.

Statistics from the Active People Survey (2015) reveal that 1.58 million youths (16 years+) with a long-term limiting illness or disability play sport once a week. This is largely due to the Premier League and BT Sport’s efforts to reach disabled children. So while a lot more work is needed to accommodate disabled football fans, at least aspiring footballers are getting the support they need to participate in the beautiful game.

Handicap playgroundChildren’s playgrounds are places of fun, laughter and the occasional injury. But not all children can join in the fun because playgrounds simply don’t cater to their special needs. Sadly, children with disabilities are often, unintentionally, discriminated against in public parks and playgrounds. Parents of disabled children in Cork have had enough. They successfully lobbied Cork County Council to make 140 public playgrounds more accessible to disabled children.

Universally accessible? Not so much

A lot of equipment in playgrounds is  ‘universally accessible’, which implies they are disability-friendly. Unfortunately, this is not even close to the truth. Children who rely on mobility scooters, wheelchairs and crutches simply cannot access most play equipment. And most equipment doesn’t meet special sensory needs.

According to Marcia D’Alton, you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to meet special needs. For example, D’Alton recommends rainbow chimes to provide sensory benefits. Chalkboards can help children who can’t verbalise. Gentle rockers are a safe alternative to swings. Roundabouts with wheelchair accessibility are available for something like €6300 (£5640). All in all, you could make a playground suitable for disabled children for less than €15,000 (£13,414).

How to create a playground suitable for disabled children

Contrary to what many people think, there are plenty of manufacturers who produce disability-friendly equipment. They are also designers with expertise in planning safe and accessible playgrounds for all children. It’s important to use experienced designers because they can ensure the play areas are as inclusive as possible so that disabled children get maximum value out of the space. These designers need to thoroughly understand the complexities of different special needs, so they can design suitable play spaces with suitable equipment and suitable safety features. The idea is not only to provide a fun space, but also to provide a challenging space that will help disabled children develop skills and build strength and confidence in a fun way.

Many playground equipment manufacturers consult industrial designers who have a complete understanding of various special needs associated with different disabilities. Equipment must be safe, stimulate the senses, improve manual dexterity, and obviously provide heaps of enjoyment.

For example:

Sutcliffe Play sells a rotating dish specially designed for dynamic fast play and which also incorporates special support that reinforces security for disabled children. It also sells ‘sand and water’ play equipment that allows children to make a splash from any position, including sitting in a wheelchair.

Where are disability-friendly parks hiding?

Handicapped swingSome are hiding in plain sight.

Wandsworth Common’s Lady Allen adventure playground won an award for providing adventurous, imaginative and exciting play opportunities for able-bodied children and children with disabilities.

Liverpool’s Croxteth Country Park and Sefton Park has special wheelchair swings. The whole wheelchair is attached to the swing which eliminates the need for lifting and transferring users.

KIDS Charity collaborated with Hertfordshire County Council to set up an accessible playground in Aldenham Country Park. It includes climbing frames, water play features, zip-wire, hobbit tunnel, tree house (and slide), basket swing, and sandpit.

Winchester’s Colden Common currently has a wheelchair-accessible play area that has a roundabout with special harnesses to secure wheelchairs in position. Bournstream, an adventure play-site located between Gloucester and Bristol features a giant sandpit, climbing wall, rope and ladder, wooden climbing frame, play house, roundabout, and slides. It also has a gated water play area with grassy banks and space for paddling. The entire space is accessible to children with disabilities and special needs.

In Kensington, the Princess Diana memorial playground has an enormous wooden pirate ship at the centre, a sensory trail, tepees and all sorts of fun equipment that can be accessed by disabled and able-bodied children.

No limits

There is no limit on the types of activities and equipment that can be used to bring all children hours of joy and fun. County Cork’s decision to make all its playgrounds fully accessible will hopefully set an example which other county’s will follow. Disabled children have enough odds stacked against them, we don’t need to make playgrounds and parks part of the problem. Let’s make them part of the solution instead.

Woman at DeskIn 2010 Government introduced the Equality Act to protect disabled employees from unfair treatment and discrimination. Recent statistics reveal that the number claims for discrimination against disabled workers has increased steadily over the past few years. Many employers now question the legitimacy of all the claims. They believe that some employees are looking for easy money by lodging complaints with employment tribunals.

Easy is the word. According to Joanna Marshall, an employment solicitor, all it takes is a ‘tenuous link’ between unfavourable or unfair treatment (discrimination) and disability for cases in front of the Employment Appeal Tribunal to succeed.

Naeema Choudry supports this view and says that it is easier for disabled workers to claim for discrimination rather than to claim that their employers failed to make reasonable adjustments for their disability. The difficulty lies in the levels of proof required. Proving disability is not difficult at all, but trying to prove an employer didn’t make reasonable adjustments is a lot harder to establish.

What constitutes a disability?

Individuals have to meet the Equality Act’s definition of disability to be protected by the Act. When the requirements for disability have been met, employers are obligated to make reasonable adjustments so that disabled employees aren’t disadvantaged.

According to the definition, a disability is any physical or mental impairment that impacts a person’s ability to carry out normal work activities. The trouble lies in the interpretation of these disabilities. Anxiety is a mental health issue, but could it impair someone to the extent that they can’t carry out their normal work activities? How can employers make adjustments to alleviate anxiety? What about obesity? Is it a physical impairment as defined by the Act? After all, it could give rise to conditions that cause impairment.

Playing fast and loose with interpretations may trigger more disability claims. However, claimants must provide medical evidence of physical or mental impairment to support their claim. Doctors may be reluctant to give evidence that enables obese employees to take advantage of disability laws. The requirement aims to deter illegitimate claims.

Employers do bear responsibility for disabled employees

There is also the very real chance that the increase in claims stems from employers not making the adjustments required. One possible reason for this is lack of awareness of adjustments required. The easiest way to address this is to simply ask the person concerned about their needs. It could be as simple as providing a quiet work space for someone with anxiety.

You can also ask job applicants to fill in a pre-employment health questionnaire. This enables you to gather details about the nature of the disability and establish what adjustments are required. You can determine if adjustments are then reasonable. According to the Equality Act, failure to disclose a disability will adversely affect employees’ success if they claim discrimination later on.

Examples of reasonable adjustments

What is reasonable depends on the employer’s resources, the size of the business, the practicality of the changes, and whether the changes would make a real difference to the employee’s ability to function at work.

Adapted KeyboardReasonable adjustments include:

  • Transfer to another job with tasks more suited to the disability.
  • Allow extra breaks.
  • Give time off for treatment and rehabilitation.
  • Allow for flexible working hours and work from home.
  • Install ramps, additional hand rails and stairway lifts.
  • Install automatic doors.
  • Improve lighting.
  • Rearrange furniture to accommodate wheelchairs, crutches or walkers.
  • Provide modified equipment, including adapted desks and keyboards.
  • Provide extra training.
  • Employ a support worker (reader or interpreter).
  • Provide extra supervision and support.

If employers are unsure about what changes are required or whether they have met certain needs, they can get additional advice and support. Disability Employment Advisers (DEAs) are a great resource, as are occupational health advisers, educational psychologists and physiotherapists.

Employers can increase their chances of success in a claim if they can show that they’ve investigated reasonable adjustments required, and carried out adjustments deemed necessary.

Large apartmentProperty is a smart investment. With more people unable to afford to buy their own property and needing to rent long-term, investing in the rental market is a good idea. While renting is a good idea for landlords, it’s not ideal for tenants. Negligent landlords are a problem (although they’re a minority). And tenants are at risk of eviction in favour of those who can pay higher rates. But still the rental market is booming.

In the UK especially, young people are flocking to the cities for work but affordable housing here is scarce. Currently, the buy-to-let market is huge but it is under threat. The built-to-rent market is growing in similar proportions. Built-to-rent is when companies or organisations build large blocks of flats for the sole purpose of renting them out.

Buy-to-let vs. built-to-rent

In comparison to private landlords who offer limited services, built-to-rent investors offer a more comprehensive package. Options include flexible contracts, on-site maintenance, gyms, security, and communal spaces and so on. Because they aren’t existing blocks of flats but are built on-demand they are guaranteed to be modern, stylish and eco-friendly. The focus is on communal living so there are communal spaces and open spaces for socialising and playing. All in all, it’s a far cry from paying exorbitant rent to live anonymously in a tiny flat.

The market is still relatively small. There are approximately 14,276 units in London and 7,112 in the rest of the UK, out of a total of 26.7m households. And it’s poised to grow very quickly very soon.

Demand for built-to-rent

Rooftop gardensInvestors’ initial concerns included  income security from the built-to-let market and the amount of management needed. However, research has shown that fewer than half of tenants aged 18 to 30 years old are satisfied with their landlords, showing that tenants these days are ready for such a move. This is a good sign for the built-to-rent market, as this is the age when people start to rent.

The built-to-rent market is touted as a rental revolution, which will change the face of the private rental sector. Economists predict that cities such as London will become cities of renters rather than homeowners in just one generation. This will effectively put UK cities in line with their continental counterparts, like Paris and Berlin, where a higher proportion of residents rent than own.

The high cost of land in city centres restricts location. However, there are plenty of sites available in more suburban areas, near train stations and tube stops. Essential Living is developing sites in Greewnich, Archway, Swiss Cottage and Croydon. Fizzy Living has flats in Lewisham, Stepney Green, Epsom and Canning Town.

Financial backing

What’s more, government is coming to the party too. It’s invested £1bn in built-to-rent schemes in an effort to deal with the affordable housing shortage. Add to that the investment by insurance giants and financial institutions and it’s no surprise there are more than 30,000 built-to-rent properties under planning review or under construction.

If you don’t want a private landlord or you’re looking at the rental market, now is the time consider built-to-rent. You could get in on the ground floor of the burgeoning co-living experience set to revolutionise the property market.

FireplaceLiving can be expensive. When we think about the costs of everyday living we need to consider the cost of food, travel, rent and then bills on top of that and that’s just to get by! Sometimes it feels like there’s nothing left after necessities – nothing for a spot of fun. So how would you feel if we told you you could cut down on some of those nasty bills and have a bit more spending money just by making a few home improvements?

Well it’s true.

Here’s how home improvements can save you money

  • Improve your insulation

If your house is unusually cold or you use a lot of heat to get through the winter, chances are your insulation is not what it should be. Insulation is necessary to conserve heat so you need less heat to warm up a room for longer. Insulation is especially important in the UK where it is really cold for a lot of the year. If this is the case in your home, consider investing in double glazing and solid wall insulation. Once this has been done you should find you’re using heating at a lower setting for shorter time periods to get the same results.

  • Check your heating systems

Typically, in the UK, more than half the household bill goes towards heating, which can be a lot of money. It makes sense to do whatever you can to prevent these bills from adding up. Your heating systems should be checked regularly to make sure they are working efficiently. Check whether your boiler needs to be replaced with a more efficient model, as many of the older models are not as energy-efficient as they could be. Also, check the controls to ensure that the boiler is heating up only when it needs to. Keeping an eye on your heating systems will ensure you are not wasting valuable energy – and money.

  • Add in a fireplace

Sometimes it’s not necessary to heat your entire house; just the most used room or rooms. Many households use portable electric or gas heaters for these occasions, but why not invest in a fireplace? While an open fireplace adds atmosphere to a room, there are other options if you don’t like the idea of smoke or soot. Gas, gel or electric fires and stoves are all affordable, energy-efficient alternatives. But as far as home improvements go, nothing beats a fireplace for cosiness and a touch of romance.

  • Install solar power

To home improvements one step further, you can install solar panels and heat pumps in your house, to reduce your use of fossil fuels. Even though solar heating may seem costly at the outset, once it’s up and running you will have virtually no running costs. Plus, it will add to the value of your home, should you ever consider selling.

leaky tap

  • Change your bathroom fittings

Water is another feature of modern living which can add to your household bills. If you are building a new bathroom, there are a range of reduced-capacity baths and water-efficient products which you can install – look for the Waterwise Recommended Checkmark. Alternatively, if you are only able to update your existing bathroom, there are a few things you can still do. Fit water-efficient showerheads and aerators to your taps to reduce the water flow and consequently your water usage and water bills.

  • Use more efficient light bulbs

Simply changing the light bulbs you use can have a huge impact on your electricity bill. Install Compact Fluorescent Lamps or Light Emitting Diodes, which are energy efficient and will save you money.

Energy bills can be one of the biggest headaches of modern living, but there are a few changes you can make around your home which can reduce these bills. What’s more, improving your house’s energy performance is good for the environment and helps reduce carbon emissions. But if you’re still not convinced, research has shown that houses with high energy performances are more valuable than other similar properties. All in all, there are really no reasons why you shouldn’t make your home more energy-efficient.

Wheelchair rugbySports are a great way to keep fit, relieve stress and hang out with friends. You can participate in an individual sport or you can play in a team. Being in a wheelchair by no means suggests people aren’t interested in or capable of participating in sport. Although wheelchair users are restricted from some able-bodied sports, most can be modified to suit wheelchairs and disabilities.

Wheelchairs used for sport are not the same as regular wheelchairs. They are specially designed to go faster, manoeuvre easily, and be stronger and more stable. As a result of these alterations and the physical practicalities of being in a wheelchair, the rules for wheelchair sports may differ from traditional rules. But they are just as exciting for the participants, not to mention the spectators.

The increase in the popularity of the Paralympic Games is an illustration of how the sports industry for people with disabilities has grown. Now these sports have more recognition and support, making it easier for people with disabilities and people in wheelchairs to get involved. In fact, there are a range of individual and team sports popular with wheelchair users, including ball sports, wheel sports, water sports, and extreme sports.

Popular wheelchair sports

Ball sports

Ball sports may not seem like an obvious choice for someone in a wheelchair, but wheelchair users are so adept at manoeuvring themselves that there are virtually no restrictions on what they can and cannot do. Plus, the use of wheelchairs makes the game faster and more exciting.

Basketball is probably the most well-known of the wheelchair sports. The rules of the game are the same as able-bodied basketball except for the travelling regulations. While in regular basketball travelling refers to taking steps, in wheelchair basketball it refers to the number of times a player can touch their wheels between dribbling.

Tennis is another popular sport. Wheelchair tennis is the same as regular tennis, though an adaptable wheelchair is required. Players can play singles, doubles, or in a team.

For those who enjoy a bit more contact with their ball sports, there’s always rugby. Not technically the same as rugby, this sport involves elements of hockey, basketball and volleyball. It’s a heavy contact sport and is not for the faint-hearted.

Wheel sports

Sports involving some kind of a vehicle seem a good fit for wheelchair users. Bear in mind that the wheelchairs used in these sports are not the same as regular wheelchairs and are modified for the specific purposes of the sport.

Wheelchair racing is also known as chairing. It is a race to the finish line but with the added elements of stunting, rail riding and ramps.

Motocross is not only for the young and the crazy. Wheelchair users can show off their moves in the skatepark with specially adapted wheelchairs. Based on BMX tricks and techniques, this sport is thrilling for both spectators and competitors.

Wheelchair skydivingWater sports

A sport for people who don’t suffer from seasickness, speed sailing enables you to enjoy the great outdoors.

Both on water and on snow, skiing has been adapted for wheelchair users. Adaptive equipment enables wheelchair users to show off their skills on the slopes or on the water.

Surfing is another option for water-lovers who are in wheelchairs. Surfboard adaptations means it’s now possible for wheelchair users to enjoy catching waves.

Extreme wheelchair sports

For an adrenaline rush, not much beats skydiving. Strapped to an able-bodied instructor, wheelchair users are able to control as much of the process as they physically can, and so experience one of the most exciting sports around.

For those who prefer to stay on the ground, there’s mountain biking. Adapted four-wheelers with big tyres, a bucket seat and hand-controlled disk brakes allow wheelchair users to navigate rough terrain.

Sports are an integral part of our lives and being in a wheelchair doesn’t mean that a person can’t participate in the sport of his or her choice. These days’ wheelchairs can be adapted and modified so that wheelchair aren’t consigned to the sidelines. Instead they can be as involved as they want.

CleaningIt’s enough of a chore to clean up after yourself, let along cleaning up after others. So when you move into a new flat, you don’t want any signs of the previous tenant. Particularly if the signs indicate a lax attitude to hygiene. End of tenancy cleaning ensures that future tenants will feel as though they are moving into a brand new property.

Existing occupants are usually responsible for end of tenancy cleaning. That doesn’t mean you have to get down on your knees and start scrubbing floors. Instead, we look at end of tenancy cleaning really requires.

How clean is clean?

Tenancy agreements stipulate that tenants leave the property in the same condition they found it. You are, of course, not expected to improve the condition of the property. Ensure you keep copies of the inventory reports so you aren’t penalised for damage incurred before your arrival.

What are the penalties for inadequate end of tenancy cleaning?

End of tenancy cleaning is required to reclaim your full security deposit. According to The Tenants Voice, 56% of deposit disputes in the UK are caused by insufficient end of tenancy cleaning. Cleaning is also usually part of a more complex dispute.

Who has to clean the property?

End of tenancy cleaning is the responsibility of the tenant, but you hire a cleaning company. Schedule the jobas close to the final inventory check as possible, so the inspection will find the flat in its cleanest state.

DIY cleaning

Scrubbing the floorsIf the property is a small one, you could save yourself some money by cleaning it yourself. It also helps if:

  • You’ve kept the home meticulously clean throughout the tenancy
  • You have experience with cleaning
  • The property is unfurnished

Bear in mind that you may need specialised cleaning equipment, like carpet and upholstery steamers. If you’re uncomfortable with that, or if you have any allergies to cleaning products, it may be best for you to employ a professional company. After all, your security deposit is on the line here.

Hiring a professional cleaning company

In some cases, landlords have managed to include a “professional cleaning” clause in the agreement, forcing tenants to pay up to £400 pounds for professional cleaners. For the most part, landlords aren’t in a position to make such demands. The Office of Fair Trading addresses this issue in its guide to unfair terms in tenancy agreements.

Note: If you don’t meet the minimum cleaning requirements, your landlord may have to hire a cleaning service to get the job done. In this case they can charge you for the cost.

Experienced landlords can recommend good cleaning companies; in fact, they may have agreements with a cleaning company for good rates. You should try to find an insured provider, so you can rest easy that the costs of any damage or theft will be covered by the cleaning company.

Tip: It would help a lot if you could obtain a copy of the final inventory inspection checklist from your landlord. Whether you are conducting the cleaning operation yourself or hiring professionals, the checklist is an invaluable resource, as you will know exactly which elements of the property will be the focus of the inspection.

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