5 Key Factors that Make an Accessible Home a Great Rental Property

Author: Jennifer Dawson

2 Articles


2 Articles

Homeownership among older Americans is decreasing with many in their 70s or 80s downsizing, renting smaller and more manageable properties, or staying at assisted-living facilities. With roughly 40% of Americans 65 years and above living with at least one disability, accessibility is a crucial aspect for this group of people.

If you are planning to buy an accessible rental property, there are some considerations that you must keep in mind before taking the plunge. Whether an accessible home makes a fantastic rental property or not depends on several factors. Here are 5 common factors you should know:

Single-Floor Layout

1. Single-Floor Layout

Mobility is the most common disability among the elderly making disability-friendly rental properties in demand. It is estimated that there will be 92 million seniors by 2060 according to the Census Bureau, a market that you can easily tap.

A third of US housing can be modified to accommodate mobility problems, but at the moment, less than 5% of housing inventory is available for people with disabilities according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development report.

One of the most essential factors in an accessible home is its layout. A single-floor house is highly attractive for those with disabilities as it makes it easy to move about with a wheelchair, walking sticks, and other assistive devices. An open layout is also desirable for older people since there are fewer doors to deal with and at the same time, frees up space and gives an impression of vastness.

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Accessible Entrance

2. Accessible Entrance

A real estate property that has an accessible entrance for those with limited mobility is crucial. Fewer steps are preferable, but if there is a stairway, a short ramp must in place so that wheelchair users can gain access to the house.

Those walking with canes and who find it challenging to use steps will also appreciate ramps. However, the slope of the ramp must be shallow and not more than 1:12 and a minimum width of 36 inches per ADA standards.

Wide doorways are essential elements as well as an accessible entrance. They must be at least 32 inches to accommodate a wheelchair or similar devices. Door lever handles instead of knobs are better for people who have problems with their hand and fingers.

If there is a garage, its easy access should be complemented with remote control. Pathways must have non-skid surfaces, well-lit and free from obstruction or overhanging branches and plants that may become hazards.

Modified Kitchen

3. Modified Kitchen

The kitchen is one of the most dangerous places for seniors or those who may have severe physical limitations. Falls and accidents are common in the kitchen due to spills, grease, or cooking fires.

Disabled people or those with a chronic illness are vulnerable because their gait may be affected, vision diminished, or reflexes slowed down. Arthritic extremities also make reaching for things difficult often causing accidents.

Hence, a balanced and well-designed kitchen that can be used by people with or without disabilities is ideal. Workspaces and countertops must be at least 34 inches in height. Adjustable counters and tables are also practical for comfort and convenience.

Pull down shelves, adjustable shelves, sinks with clearance under for a wheelchair user, and slightly raised appliances (dishwasher or oven) are amenities that improve accessibility. An induction stove with tactile controls also reduces accidental burns or fires.

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Disabled-Friendly Bathroom

4. Disabled-Friendly Bathroom

Adults spend an average of 3 hours and 9 minutes each week in the bathroom according to a UK study. However, this figure could easily increase for people with disabilities and raise the chances of accidents. Bathroom falls and slips account for 234,000 of emergency visits annually based on a CDC report. It also noted that 80% of injuries were caused by slips while getting in and out of the shower or tub and more common among women and the elderly.

Improving or modifying a bathroom can improve its accessibility, enhance independent living and reduce accidents.  A curbless shower for wheelchair users lowers risks of accidents and can benefit everyone regardless of ability. Its’ width or opening should be at least 36 inches and there must be space inside to turn around.

The ADA also recommends toilets to be at least 17 inches to 19 inches high, a comfortable height for all users. Walk-in tubs, grab bars, non-skid floors, rolling or fixed shower seats, and accessible towel shelf all help in improving bathroom accessibility and safety. To avoid scalds, install shower controls and anti-scald mixing valves.

Location of the Property

5. Location of the Property

A rental property that is near to amenities such as a hospital for veterans, recreational facilities, and shopping centers is attractive for tenants with disabilities. Access to public transportation is a plus factor as well. There are also places that put a high value on accessibility and therefore, entice many retirees and older people.

For example, it is known that many seniors head to Florida to retire drawn by the good weather and lower cost of living. As an example, Gainesville has a stringent disability-friendly building code that makes it easy to find accessible accommodation.

Other areas and neighborhoods may also boast of adaptability features in public areas and transportation that make it less difficult for people with disabilities to move around. In places where accessibility is important, you will find a high demand for adapted rental properties.

Buying an accessible real estate is a challenging activity. Although not everyone will need all the elements of a disability-friendly property, tenants whose debilities are likely to worsen over time due to age or a lingering illness will need more features to accommodate their requirements.

A property that you can modify over time for disabled tenants at a reasonable cost is valuable. If you choose a rental property that has at least some of the features that people with disabilities need in a convenient location, your investment can bring in decent income that you, yourself can use to supplement incomes or even contribute to your retirement fund.

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