Finding the perfect apartment is a major undertaking — it requires attention to a variety of factors such as location, price, unit layout, amenities, and more. For those who require a wheelchair accessible apartment, that list becomes a bit longer.
If you’re trying to figure out how to find handicap accessible housing, you need not fret. Thankfully, many of today’s modern apartment communities are packed with ADA-compliant features and amenities. You just have to know where to look and what questions to ask.
What Makes An Apartment Handicap Accessible?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act protect those with a disability from discrimination. These acts also mandate that public areas, including work and housing spaces, either be accessible to those with disabilities or be reasonably modified to make them accessible. For example, permission to add support bars in the bathroom is considered a reasonable modification.
The ADA covers a wide range of disabilities that substantially limit a person’s ability to complete everyday tasks — this does include disabilities which are not immediately obvious to an outsider. Landlords and property managers may not ask about the exact nature of a person’s disability, nor can they refuse to rent to someone based on their disability.
All apartments built after 1990 must comply with the ADA. However, apartments built before 1990 are not required to meet the same standards. That said, it’s important to keep the age of buildings in mind when searching for handicap accessible apartments for rent near you.
What To Look For In A Wheelchair Accessible Apartment
- Parking: Accessible parking spaces should be identified by size, access aisle, and signage.
- Entryways: According to the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, hallways and doors must be a minimum of 36 inches wide to accommodate a wheelchair.
- Ramps: There must be a handle running the length of any ramp, and ramps should be flush with the floor. The slope of each section of the ramp must be 1:12 or less (i.e. for every inch of height change there are at least 12 inches of ramp run).
- Light Switches: Light switches in handicap accessible apartments should be placed low enough to be reached from a wheelchair.
- Flooring: Floors should allow a wheelchair to maneuver easily across them. This means they will likely be vinyl, wood, or low pile and thinly padded.
- Appliances: Appliances must be handicap accessible as well. This might include, front-loading washers and dryers or stoves with knobs on the front of the range instead of the back panel.
- Kitchen: ADA compliant countertops are 30 inches off the ground, rather than the traditional 36. Upper cabinets must be lowered to allow easy access. Lower cabinets should be removed so that a wheelchair can roll underneath the countertops and sink.
- Bathroom: Mirrors and cabinets should be lowered. Again, vanity cabinets should be removed to create room for a wheelchair to roll under the sink. Showers should be walk-in and include grab bars. Toilets should be taller and include grab bars, as well.
How To Find Wheelchair Accessible Housing in 6 Steps
- Set your budget. As you determine where to live, your ideal apartment size, and whether to get a roommate don’t forget to consult your finances. In fact, this should be the first step of your process. It’s great to find a handicap accessible apartment near you, but it doesn’t do you any good if you can’t afford it.
- Make a list of criteria. Just because an apartment isn’t technically ADA compliant, doesn’t mean it can’t work for you. Make a list of your must-haves from the list above and then get to searching. Some additional criteria could be things like an open-floor plan or studio apartment that provides extra floor space for maneuvering a wheelchair. Also, think about the community and neighborhood must-haves that will make your life easier such as 24-hour emergency maintenance, wheelchair accessible parking, or accessible public transportation.
- Research potential apartment complexes. Search the web with the term “handicap accessible apartments for rent near me.” Make a few calls to learn whether an apartment community has wheelchair accessible apartments. If so, ask about their application process.
- Visit prospective complexes. While photos and floorplans can give you some sense of a particular apartment unit, nothing beats seeing a potential community in person. Set aside plenty of time to tour complexes and/or attend open houses. Bring your tape measure and be sure to look at communal areas you might use like the lobby, laundry rooms, fitness center, or business center to make sure they are accessible to you as well.
- Gather your financial information. Get your income documentation in order, including pay stubs and any housing and disability benefits you receive.
- Fill out a rental application. At Southern Management, the entire application process can be completed online. Just Select an apartment community and click on “Pricing/Availability” to get started.
Look No Further than Southern Management for Handicap Accessible Housing
Southern Management has a variety of handicap and wheelchair accessible apartments for rent near you. Browse our 75+ apartment communities, narrow down the location, and check out each community’s unique amenities.
If one of our communities catches your eye, attend one of our open house events, or contact us to speak with a team member. We’d be happy to answer any questions about apartment amenities, features, and pricing!