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Disabled woman wins right to adapt home

A woman has won a landmark case against her landlord after being told she could not adapt her home to suit her needs.

Stacey Smailes, 33, who has a mobility-limiting condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, had to leave her Newport flat as changes were banned.

Judge Milwyn Jarman ruled at Cardiff County Court that the alterations were reasonable in light of her disability. Landlords must now allow disabled tenants to make "reasonable and necessary" alterations to their homes. Ms Smailes had requested to move the kitchen of her flat in Clewer Court, Newport, into the larger living room as it was difficult for her to move around when she was using a wheelchair.

She also wanted a bedroom door to be moved closer to her bed in order to go to the toilet independently at night and be close to her 16-month-old son. However, she said her requests were met with "hostility" by her landlords from Clewer Court Roads Ltd who asked her to "prove" her disability, despite owning the lease of the property. Ms Smailes and her husband left the flat to live with her mother in May 2017, where they remain. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome affects Ms Smailes' joints, ligaments and blood vessels, restricting her mobility.

She was forced to provide numerous reports proving her disability, including one from an occupational therapist that her landlords wanted to be able to share with other residents. The judge ruled that Clewer Court Residents Limited should have agreed to let Ms Smailes carry out the alteration works.

Speaking after the hearing, Ms Smailes said: "Independence for me means being able to do everything a young mum does.

"As much as possible I want to be able to do as much as possible myself."

Rebecca Hilsenrath, from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: "We hope that today's ruling will go a long way to ensure that disabled people can enjoy their right to independent living".

A remedy hearing has been set for April.