Looking for some expert tips on how to find handicap accessible apartments in no time?
When you are ready to move, you want your new home to have everything you need.
If you have mobility challenges or use a device such as a cane, walker, or travel wheelchair, your new home must be accessible in order to make it safe.
Here are a few tips for you to find an apartment you love and that is accessible to your needs.
What Does Handicap Accessible Apartment Mean?
Before we can dive into our tips on finding handicap accessible apartments, we should probably define exactly what that means so we can make sure we’re on the same page (literally and figuratively).
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development gives guidelines that ensure you can find the same seven features in all handicap-accessible apartments.
7 Things That Make an Apartment Handicap Accessible
These guidelines are laid out in the Fair Housing Act. Let’s take a look at them
1. An accessible route to and from the apartment.
This means that there should be at least one route that is unobstructed and safe to navigate with a mobility aid. Look for smooth pavement and no stairs.
2. Public areas in the building are accessible.
This means that you should be able to safely and easily get your mail at the mailboxes or enjoy other public areas available like restrooms, clubhouse meeting rooms, etc.
3. Useable doors.
Different from the accessible route, this means the doors to apartments and buildings should be wide enough for those who use a wheelchair to safely and easily pass through.
4. An accessible route into and through the apartment.
This means that your actual apartment should be accessible; you should be able to safely and easily navigate the hallways and rooms throughout your apartment, including your kitchen, living room, and bedroom.
5. Accessible locations for environmental controls.
Handicap-accessible apartments must also be wheelchair accessible and have light switches, thermostats, electrical outlets, and other controls at a level where someone in a wheelchair can safely reach them while seated.
These accessible features are important to daily life for people with disabilities.
6. Reinforced walls in the bathrooms.
This special touch ensures that any installed grab bars will be safely anchored. It is not required for the bathrooms to have grab bars already installed, just that the walls are reinforced in case the tenant wants to install them at some point.
7. Useable bathrooms and kitchens
Finally, accessible apartments must have useable bathrooms and kitchens. This simply means that someone with a mobility device, such as a wheelchair, can actually use the spaces safely and easily.
Check out this video with more details:
How Do I Find My ADA Housing?
The Americans Disabilities Act offers guidance on public buildings and common spaces, giving rules about how to create an accessible environment.
If you have mobility challenges or use a mobility device, you will want to find an apartment that meets Fair Housing Act rules in a building that is ADA accessible.
Many online apartment search engines allow you to filter results of available apartments based on specific criteria, including accessibility.
You can also look locally by calling around apartment complexes in your desired location or neighborhood.
Just be aware that you are more likely to find accessible apartments in buildings that were built more recently, since 1991, when Fair Housing regulations went into effect.
Finally, if you are over the age of 65, you might also want to include older adult or senior living communities on your list.
These communities were designed for seniors, and are typically more accessible than other options. A senior living apartment community also tends to feature services designed to improve quality of life.
Can I Rent an ADA Apartment?
Absolutely. Search for apartments that are available for rent in your desired location.
If you have a Section 8 voucher or other assistance, you will need to look for affordable housing apartments that take those vouchers.
Who is Responsible for ADA Compliance, Landlord or Tenant?
The Americans with Disabilities Act gives specific rules for public buildings and common spaces.
The landlord of those spaces is responsible for ADA compliance. Spaces can include parking lots, clubhouses, apartment hallways, and other common spaces in the building.
For specific individual units, the ADA does not apply.
However, if a building says an apartment is accessible via the Fair Housing Act, it should include those seven qualities we talked about earlier.
You might still be responsible for adding more accessibility equipment (like grab bars) in your apartment.
What Are the Best States to Find Handicap Accessible Apartments?
When searching for handicap accessible apartments, you are more likely to find one you love if you look in places where there are multiple options.
Larger cities and suburbs throughout the country have more apartment buildings in general, as opposed to rural areas, so you are more likely to have more than one apartment to choose from.
All states are bound by both the ADA and the Fair Housing Act, but you might have more luck in a state with larger cities as well as a state that has boomed in apartment construction since the early 1990s.
Finding a handicap accessible apartment should feel exciting and not frustrating.
Remember to take your time, ask if you can tour the apartment with your mobility aid, and ask lots of questions before you sign your lease.
Good luck with your move!