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Barrier-free housing

Stair lifts, environmental control systems or door widenings for independent housing without barriers can be associated with high costs.

In most cases, those affected have to finance the new construction or conversion from their own funds. In individual cases, however, various cost units can subsidise the construction work. The state may grant favourable loans and help with tax relief.

The cost units pay loans or grants to support professional and social participation as well as independent living. The funding limits vary. In some cases, the applicant's income has an influence on the amount.
It should be noted that the application for funding should be submitted prior to construction and prior to a purchase contract and that written approval should be awaited!

People in need of care or people with disabilities who have a care degree can receive income-independent subsidies for measures to improve the living environment from the care insurance fund. A subsidy of up to EUR 4,000 is possible per measure; if several people in need of care live together, the subsidy increases to a maximum of EUR 16,000.

The subsidy is granted if home care is made possible or considerably facilitated or if the independent lifestyle of the person in need of care is restored (§ 40, Para. 4 SGB XI).

However, a measure is only subsidised once, even if it benefits several people in need of care and the construction measures take place at different times. If the state of health deteriorates considerably or the degree of care increases, a new measure can be applied for.

Individual assistive products such as folding support handles, bath lifts or toilet seat raisers may possibly be covered by the health insurance fund.

People with disabilities who are in gainful employment are in principle entitled to have their living space designed to be suitable for disabled people if it is necessary for them to participate in working life. This is generally regulated in the SGB IX as well as concretised in the individual Social Codes and in the Severely Disabled Persons Compensation Tax Ordinance (§ 49 Para. 8 No. 6, § 185 Para. 3 No. 1 d in conjunction with § 22 SchwbAV).

Which benefit provider is eligible for subsidies depends, among other things, on the cause of the disability, the degree of severity and the insurance periods:

  • Pension insurance: those who have paid social security contributions for more than 15 years are supported by their competent pension insurance.
  • Federal Employment Agency: If you have paid contributions for less than 15 years - and also for trainees - the Federal Employment Agency is usually responsible.
  • Accident insurance: If a recognised occupational disease or an occupational accident is the cause of a disability, the statutory accident insurance or the respective employers' liability insurance association or accident insurance fund will pay (for specific information, see § 41 SGB VII in conjunction with the UV housing assistance guidelines).
  • Integration Office (Inclusion Office): Freelancers, self-employed persons and civil servants with a severe disability or equal status for whom no rehabilitation agency is responsible can, under certain circumstances, be supported by the Integration Office (§ 22 SchwbAV).

In connection with basic security and integration assistance (benefits for housing), the providers of integration assistance and basic security offices can also help with the procurement of housing suitable for disabled people or subsidise the conversion of an existing dwelling.
However, these institutions only provide benefits on a subordinate basis if no other benefit provider is responsible. Their benefits are tied to income and asset limits and may only be granted in the form of loans.

The federally owned KfW-Bankengruppe (Kreditinstitut für Wiederaufbau) offers loans and grants to private individuals for barrier-free conversion and construction of living space.

Programme number 159 is a low-cost loan for the barrier-free conversion of living space. Financing of up to 100 percent of the eligible investment costs is possible, up to a maximum of EUR 50,000 per housing unit. Private individuals, housing companies and housing cooperatives as well as tenants can apply for the loan in consultation with the landlord or landlady. The respective house bank handles the processing and disbursement of the loan.

KfW also pays investment grants for barrier-free construction (number 455-B). The grant can be applied for directly from KfW.

However, the two subsidy programmes, investment grant 455 and loan 159, cannot be combined.

In addition, there are other banks that grant promotional loans (e.g. NRW.Bank).

Many federal states, cities and municipalities have their own funding programmes for age-appropriate and barrier-free conversion and extension, which are often limited in time and include different funding requirements. Information is available from local housing offices or state and federal state banks.

A number of foundations promote barrier-free building or conversions, such as the Elsa Krauschitz Foundation or the Foundation of Saxon Self-Help for the Disabled - Otto Perl.

Taxpayers can claim conversion costs as "extraordinary burdens" in their tax return. It is important to find out from your own tax office which documents (copies of invoices, disability certificates, attestations, etc.) are required before starting the renovation work.

Barrier-free construction requires far-sighted planning and an accurate assessment of the sometimes high costs. Expert help is available, for example, from the following contact points:

  • Housing advice centres: In Germany there is not one housing advice service, rather this is often integrated into other advice services (e.g. care support points).
  • Experts: These are specially trained specialist planners and experts for barrier-free planning, building and housing. These also include the Federal Chamber of Architects (BAK), the Federal Chamber of Engineers (BIngK) and the Chambers of Crafts (e.g. Central Association for Sanitation, Heating and Air Conditioning - ZVSHK).
  • Self-help clubs and associations: These institutions help with the formulation of applications or provide competent assistance (e.g. Bundesverband Selbsthilfe Körperbehinderter BSK).