Finding Apartments for Disabled Apartment Hunters

Finding a place to live that is accessible and comfortable is more challenging for disabled apartment hunters. But with an awareness of rights and  a clear idea of what is needed in an apartment community, the task can be made easier.

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If you or a loved one are disabled, you should know that there are a number of laws in place that help ensure that you or they are not denied an apartment or access to one on the basis of a disability. You’ll also want to keep in mind all the details of what accessible means to you, and be prepared with the right questions for your apartment search.

Know the law
The Americans with Disabilities Act and Fair Housing Act both provide protection when it comes to access of housing for those with disabilities. The ADA is more general in its guidelines for leased property than for public property, but still requires that landlords allow access, passively or actively. The financial burden of such modifications, however, is open to negotiation.

According to the ADA Web site, “The ADA places the legal obligation to remove barriers or provide auxiliary aids and services on both the landlord and the tenant. The landlord and the tenant may decide by lease who will actually make the changes and provide the aids and services, but both remain legally responsible.”

The Fair Housing Act is more specific in regard to apartments for disabled persons. The details of this law are managed by the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Not only does the act make it illegal to refuse housing to someone on the basis of race, sex, familial status or religion, but it also prohibits landlords from stopping disabled tenants from modifying their housing to make it accessible. Furthermore, the Fair Housing Act provides specific design guidelines for construction built after March 1991 to ensure accessibility for tenants.

Ask the right questions
When looking for apartments that are accessible, prepare a checklist of questions for the landlord or management company. To be sure your potential home is a wheelchair-accessible apartment, you’ll want to know specific details. Here a just a few of the possible questions to ask.

  • Are the doors at least 32 inches wide?
  • Are doors opened by handle or knobs?
  • Are handles in place on any ramps?
  • Are light switches and thermostats low enough to reach?
  • Are carpeted surfaces easy enough to roll upon?

Make sure all hallways, including those in public areas, are usable, that the apartment has an accessible kitchen with low-enough counters, and an accessible bathroom that is big enough with grab bars around the toilet, tub and shower.

Location
In addition to ensuring that your accessible apartment is right for you on the inside, you’ll also want to make sure that you have access to the world outside. Can you easily walk or wheel to groceries and services? How congested are streets and sidewalks? Do crosswalks have appropriate lights and crossing chimes for safety?

Hunting for apartments can feel daunting for the disabled, but know you’re not alone in your search. Armed with an understanding of rights and a list of the important questions to ask, it won’t be long till you’re settled in the perfect home.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons / TheDarkThing

21 thoughts on “Finding Apartments for Disabled Apartment Hunters

  1. I am 21 years of age, and I need to have my own place so that I can do the things that I need to do for myself. I am in a wheel chair, and it is hard to find a place that will fit me so that I will be able to take care of myself better. I am looking for a one bedroom appt.

    • Hi, Herbert. You can search for apartments that may meet your needs on ApartmentGuide.com. Search by city and state. Using Special Features on the left, you can select units which offer disability access. Best of luck on your apartment search!

  2. We are looking for appetite one bed room down stereo bigenof for a weep chear
    And has a parkway tacks houseing we don’t have it but on the wasting list need to stay in any place in Oc Ca cant pay more then $900 dallerz rent and is deaf frenly
    And is 6 query feet or biger

  3. Hi im looking for an apartment for disability I got disable because of cancer and im looking an apartment in las cruces nm 88001 and how many persons can they live with me

  4. I am legally blind and looking for a disability apartment in Montgomery Alabama. I do receive SSI/SSDI. THX in advance!!!

  5. Hello, i am 58yrold disabled not sure what i need but i ll start with studio apartment only social security diasability for income and need cat friendly. Im in minneaplis MN55407 i may need assisted living down the road. i have aproximatly 4 months to find something. Im hoping you can help. Thank you Kathy

  6. looked for a 2 or 3 bedroom handicap unit wheel chair accessible in fort worth tx that except section 8 used apartment locators and your ad apartment guide come up with the same result the doors here are too narrow along with the hallways. very few are willing to accommodate but the restrooms are to small apartment complex have the handicap symbols but its for outside parking areas Any suggestions

  7. Hi, My name is Philip. I am just now applying for Disability.I currently live in a Condominium in Kirkwood, Missouri for the past 10 years. I was hoping I could find an affordable rental or Condo to move to near my current home in Kirkwood, Missouri. Is there any assistance for someone like me?

    Any direction or comments would be much appreciated!
    Sincerely, Philip

  8. Philip again here! I have few special needs, my biggest concern is availability to swimming for exercise & affordability. It is difficult to stand or walk for any length of time. Swimming is the only exercise I am able to enjoy needed for long term health! I hope I do not sound to particular for my specific needs. I am also an exceptional neighbor!

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