Housing and cystic fibrosis
If you have CF, damp and mould can affect your health, or a lack of space may mean that you don’t have space to do your physiotherapy or store your medications.
This information gives guidance about how to get help from your local council, paying rent, and other organisations that can support you, such as Shelter.
Your housing status
Your housing status is important. This means the type of housing you live in, who owns it, or not having a fixed place to live (i.e. homelessness). It can help you to understand more about:
- Protection you have from eviction
- Passing on the tenancy
When you agree to rent a property, you create a contract between yourself and the landlord, whether you sign a written agreement or not .
Your rights will depend on when the tenancy started, the paperwork that's been completed, and whether you share living space with your landlord or their family.
An assured shorthold tenancy is the most common type of contract given by landlords.
When you call our Helpline, we may ask you some questions to work out what type of tenancy you have. You can also do this yourself on Shelter’s website.
A new scheme to make renting easier and provide more security has been introduced in Wales.
Discrimination in housing
It might be against the law if someone treats you unfairly or differently because of who you are, such as being disabled. The law can also require reasonable adjustments to be made for you if you have a disability. If a landlord does not follow the law, you can complain or take them to court.
This legislation covers you both when you’re looking for a place to live or living somewhere. If you’re being evicted, you might also be able to use your discrimination rights to help defend the eviction in court.
In England, Wales, and Scotland, the Equality Act 2010 is the key piece of legislation to legally protect against discrimination. In Northern Ireland, the legislation is the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA). Under both of these acts, cystic fibrosis (CF) will count as a disability.
Find out more about CF and disability.
- Shelter, a specialist housing charity, gives free and confidential housing advice.
- Citizens Advice, a general advice charity, can also give free and confidential housing advice.
In England and Wales, you might be able to get free and confidential advice under the legal aid scheme, from a legal aid housing lawyer or from the Civil Legal Advice (CLA) service. Different legal aid schemes operate in Scotland and in Northern Ireland.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission, who operate across Great Britain, have published this guidance about the housing rights of disabled people. In Northern Ireland it’s the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.
Housing conditions and CF (or "fitness for habitation")
Why it’s important
Having a safe, warm, and comfortable home is important for everyone, and is especially important for someone with cystic fibrosis. If you have CF, damp and mould can affect your health, or a lack of space may mean that you don’t have space to do your physiotherapy or store your medications.
Fitness for habitation
Landlords have a responsibility to make sure that their properties are ‘fit for habitation’.
This means your home is safe for you to live in and well maintained. This means the home is:
- structurally stable
- free from serious disrepair
- free from dampness that could damage the occupant's health
- providing adequate lighting, heating, and ventilation.
Your home may be unfit for habitation when there are significant health and safety issues which mean that it is no longer safe for you to live there. Poor conditions includes things that put you at risk of physical harm, anything that means you can’t make use of the full home, or, most significantly for people with cystic fibrosis, affect your health.
Find out if your home is unfit for habitation by visiting Shelter’s website.
Landlords (this includes private landlords, councils, and housing associations) are responsible for most of the repairs in your home and must carry out any repairs necessary in a reasonable amount of time. Timescales can depend on how serious the problem is. Your responsibility as the tenant is to report any issues as soon as possible. The timescales only begin once you’ve told them about the problem, not from when the problem started. You should keep a log and evidence of communication with your landlord and get some support from your local council if your landlord doesn’t fix what is broken.
More information on repairs and responsibilities can be found on Shelter’s website.
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
You can ask the council to inspect your home under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). Your local council's environmental health team can take action if your home is unsafe.
The assessment is carried out by an environmental health officer from the local council and the council need to take action if serious problems are found.
You would need to contact your local council, and ask for an environmental health officer, and they will arrange to come out to your home and make an assessment.
You can read more about HHSRS on Shelter’s website.
If you feel that your home is unfit for habitation or needs repair and your landlord is not acting quickly or appropriately, please reach out and get help. Shelter can give specialist housing advice. You should also let your CF team know what’s happening, especially if your housing conditions are affecting your health.
Improving your housing conditions
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to getting funding to help make improvements to your home, the Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs) can help. HIAs are locally commissioned services that ensure people can stay safe, secure, and warm while staying independent in their own home.
A Disabled Facilities Grant is provided by your local authority for essential renovations to your home to help a disabled person live an independent life, such as installing ramps or widening doors. This applies to England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. A similar scheme is available in Scotland – you can read about this and how to apply on the Shelter Scotland website.
Independence at Home may be able to help you if you or a family member have a long-term illness or disability, and need financial help towards the cost of independent living. This can include equipment, home adaptations or other essential items to improve your independence, comfort, safety, and quality of life at home.
The Renovation Grant in Northern Ireland is for homes that have been found unfit to live in and pose a risk to the occupant(s)’ health.
The DLF have a range of factsheets around independent living, including detailed information on how to source funding and grants as well as making choices about home adaptations. Their online self-help guide ‘AskSARA’ also provides advice, support and products that make daily living easier.
Don’t forget to claim VAT relief. If you’re disabled, any building work you do to adapt your home may be zero-rated for VAT. Find out if you have a VAT exemptions on building work.
Problems paying your rent
If you’ve missed a rent payment, you’re in 'arrears'. This means that you owe rent to your landlord.
If you’re having problems paying your rent, then seek specialist benefits advice to check your benefits entitlement. Please contact our Helpline if you’d like to speak to our Welfare and Rights Advisor about this.
Our Welfare Officer can talk to you about income maximisation. Maximising your income is about getting extra income from available sources, and making your money go further by finding savings where possible. If you’d like to speak to our Welfare Officer about this, please contact our Helpline.
You should also speak to a specialist debt adviser who can check the tenancy and if rent is lawfully due – to help you work out what you can afford and advise you on your options.
If you have rent arrears, it’s important that you act quickly to stop your arrears getting bigger and to avoid your landlord trying to evict you. You can read more about your options below (depending on where you live).
If you’re in England
If you’re in Scotland
If you’re in Wales
If you’re in Northern Ireland
Help to pay your rent
Financial support may be available if you’re struggling to pay your rent.
If you’re on a low income, Universal Credit payments can help towards paying your rent.
You can make a claim if:
- you’re on a low income or out of work
- you’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
- you’re under State Pension age (or your partner is)
- you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you
- you live in the UK
It is means-tested and the income and savings of both you and your partner will be taken into consideration.
Please note that if you already receive any legacy benefits, please seek advice before claiming Universal Credit. This is because you may not be better off, your legacy benefits will end and they cannot be re-claimed. You may be better off waiting until the DWP ask you to transfer at a later stage.
Legacy benefits are:
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Working Tax Credit
More information about how and when the DWP will ask you to claim Universal Credit can be found here.
You will be asked for proof of your income and savings as well as a copy of your tenancy agreement.
The amount you will receive will depend on the rent you pay, your age, the number of people in the house and your income.
If your disability or health condition limits your capability for work, you can still claim, but you will need a sick note (fit note or Statement of Fitness for Work) from your doctor and will be asked to go through a Work Capability Assessment process. You can find out more about health conditions, disability, and universal credit here.
If you are a private tenant, you will be awarded a Local Housing Allowance (LHA) for the property in your area depending on the number of bedrooms you and your family are deemed to require.
The bedroom calculator can be found here.
You can find out your LHA here.
If you are a council or social housing tenant, you should receive the full amount. This also depends on the number of bedrooms you and your family are deemed to require.
The amount awarded will also depend on your financial circumstances. It will not cover charges for water, gas, or electricity.
Discretionary Housing Payment
If the Universal Credit housing costs element does not cover the full cost of your rent, you must find it yourself from existing income.
If you’re struggling to meet this shortfall, then you could apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) from your local authority. This provides financial support to help with rent or housing costs. You can apply for a DHP if you currently claim either Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit and need more financial support with housing costs. It can cover things like a rent shortfall, deposits, or a rent advance if you need to move home. DHP funding is available in England and Wales.
How can we help?
Our Helpline, Welfare Officer, or Welfare and Rights Advisor can advise you further.
You can contact our Helpline for support with housing. We will ask you some questions about your situation so we can best support you and signpost to other sources of help, including working out what type of tenancy you have. We may need to see copies of letters or decisions made by your local authority, and we could also help you to decide what evidence (including medical evidence) you could submit to help any applications or reviews.
Help with energy and water bills
The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is a government energy efficiency scheme in the UK to help reduce carbon emissions and tackle fuel poverty. Find out more about how the scheme affects consumers, suppliers, installers, and industry.
Winter Fuel Payment is a benefit paid to older people to help them to keep the heating on more and stay warm in winter. To be able to claim this, you need to have been born on or before 26 September 1955, and it is paid automatically if you are getting a state pension or other benefit.
The Warm Home Discount Scheme can provide a one-off discount on electricity bills for those on a low income. The money is not paid to you – it comes off your electricity bill, credited between September and March. The discount will not affect your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.
These energy suppliers offer grants and schemes to help fuel-poor customers clear their energy debts:
- British Gas Energy Trust
- npower Energy Fund
- Scottish Power Hardship Fund
- OVO Energy Fund
- E.ON Energy Fund
- EDF Energy Customer Support Fund
- SSE Priority Assistance Fund
You may also be eligible for extra support from your energy supplier through the Priority Service Register.
The WaterSure scheme allows some people’s water bills to be capped, if they have a water meter and someone in the home has a medical condition which requires a significant use of water; for example, if they’re having to do more laundry loads, or are having more baths due to their health needs.
You may be homeless if:
- you're sleeping rough
- you don't have rights to stay where you are
- or you live in unsuitable housing.
What to do
If you’re homeless or think you may become homeless, then it’s important that you seek advice. Contact your local council and say you want to make a homelessness application. You can find your local council’s website here, where you will also be able to find contact details for them. You must be clear that your situation is urgent, and you don’t just want to go on the housing register. A homelessness application is different to a regular housing application.
The level of help the council will offer will depend on their decision about your circumstances and they may only be able to offer hotel-type accommodation at first.
The council must help you if you are homeless already or threatened with homelessness in the next eight weeks. This includes when you have a valid Section 21 notice that ends in the next eight weeks.
If it’s not reasonable or safe for you to live in your current home, you can be considered homeless. For people with cystic fibrosis this may mean the home is having a negative impact on your health if things like damp and mould are severe. It’s important to find out if your circumstances would mean you count as legally homeless or threatened with homelessness.
Please note that if you have any restriction on your right to stay in the UK, please seek specialist advice from an immigration specialist before you make any application to your local authority.
Some people qualify for emergency housing while the council looks into things. If you’re offered emergency housing it’s important that the council place you somewhere which will not negatively impact your health. The council must take into account the health needs of everyone in the home (including those with CF). If you’re offered somewhere you think is unsuitable, there is information on Shelter’s website about what to do next.
Not everyone qualifies for emergency housing, only those who meet all of the following criteria:
- You have nowhere safe to stay.
- You have children, are pregnant, are homeless because of domestic abuse, or have another type of priority need (ie because of your health).
- You meet the immigration conditions.
You may have an automatic priority need for housing when homeless. For example, if you are:
- living with dependent children
- homeless because of domestic abuse
- a care leaver aged 18 to 20
- homeless due to a fire or flood
- considered vulnerable.
You may be considered as vulnerable by your council’s homeless team if you or a person in your home lives with physical or mental ill health or has a learning disability. You may also be vulnerable for any other reason that would make you more vulnerable than another person (for example, if you are fleeing harm, have been in the armed forces or spent time in custody).
You could ask for a letter of support from someone in your CF team to explain why you should be considered as vulnerable and have priority need. Our Helpline can also help with a letter of support.
If you’re homeless or threatened with homelessness, this can be stressful and overwhelming. Homelessness may also affect your CF and physical health. If you think you’re legally homeless or threatened with homelessness it’s important that you get support as soon as possible.
You should also tell your CF team as well as getting specialist advice and support.
Please note that the above guidance is mostly relevant for England. Please see links below for advice relating to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
- Shelter England
- Shelter Scotland
- Shelter Cymru
- Housing Advice NI (Northern Ireland)
- Citizens Advice
- Advice UK
If you’re feeling really worried and don’t know where to start, please call our Helpline on 0300 373 1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and one of our friendly team can give you information and signpost you to specialist support.
Page last reviewed: January 2023
Next review due: January 2026
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