The world we live in is not made in a way that is entirely inclusive for those who live with a
disability. Because of this, people with disabilities have to approach everyday activities in ways
different from those who do not have a disability. For instance, when searching for a new home,
seniors with disabilities have to take into account their accessibility needs. Although many
seniors choose to stay in their current home or purchase a new one in their golden years, many others
choose to rent. After all, there are many benefits to renting in your later years: your landlord will
make repairs to broken fixtures or structural issues, you can leave at the end of your lease if the
property doesn’t suit your needs, or maybe you don’t have the funds to purchase a home in your
While the Americans with Disabilities Act requires public buildings to be designed in a way that
is more accessible, the burden of modifying a private residence to suit mobility needs is placed
on the homeowner. The good news is that if you’re renting, your landlord must be willing to
make reasonable accommodations to the property for you, because without these modifications,
seniors with disabilities are more susceptible to serious injuries and day-to-day life is impeded.
Thus, a senior with a disability can either find an existing house to rent that suits their mobility
requirements or work with the property owner to modify a home to suit them.
Home Accessibility Features to Seek
● Wide hallways
● Wheelchair ramps
● Pocket doors
● Offset hinges
● Glass doors
● Zero-step entrances
● Handrails and grab bars
● Roll-in shower
● Lever door handles (instead of knobs)
● Lower countertops
● Non-slip flooring
● Stair lifts
● Lighted paths
● Remote controlled lighting
● Designated parking
Finding a Home that Suits Your Needs
If you want to find a home that suits your mobility and accessibility needs, make a list of
preferences and priorities that you can refer to as you hunt for a rental property. It’s quite
possible you won’t find a place that has everything you need, but the more specific you are
about the features you are looking for, the easier it will be for a real estate agent to narrow down
potential properties that are worth your time.
Furthermore, look for an agent whose niche is helping people with disabilities find accessible
homes. Agents who work primarily with senior citizens often have to look for the same types of
features, so an agent with that experience may work as well.
Home Modifications for Accessibility and Mobility
As mentioned above, it’s rare for a person to find a house that has every accessibility feature
they may need, especially when they’re renting. There is a good chance you and your landlord
will have to make some modifications to the home for optimal living. If you are lucky, the only
renovations you will need to make are inexpensive and quick, like installing grab bars or
upgrading the carbon monoxide detectors. However, if you have to make more expensive
modifications, there are resources that can help your landlord pay for them. There are grants
and federal funds specifically for people with disabilities who need to renovate their homes, but
there is also non-monetary support through retailers that can provide essential materials for
your renovations. If you find a home you’re excited about and hope to live in long term, talk to
the property owner about these options for funding the modifications you need.
The Little Things
Once you settle on a home, you’ll have a laundry list of to-do items that need to be addressed
before you ever step foot in your new rental property. This includes seeking out reputable
movers (even better if you can find a company with experience moving seniors), getting help
with packing and packing supplies, measuring rooms for furniture placement, having the house
cleaned, and addressing any pressing modifications that are must-haves before you transition.
Keeping these tasks at the forefront of your mind can make the entire process a bit smoother,
as moving can be an overwhelming undertaking for anyone.
Finding an accessible rental property can feel like the proverbial needle in a haystack. However,
with the right real estate agent and an open mind, it is possible to find the right home.
And even if it's not perfect, with the right bones, you may be able to work with your landlord to turn
it into the accessible home of your dreams.
For all of your home buying and selling needs in New Jersey, contact Realtor Emil Ratti of
Article Submitted (Jan 2021) By: