Finding a great apartment can be challenging enough — but finding a suitable apartment when you have a disability can be even more challenging. Depending on where you're looking, disability access apartments aren't always easy to come by. Whether this is your first time seeking a disability access apartment or not, there are a few dos and don'ts to keep in mind as you begin your search.
Do: Understand Your Rights
Unfortunately, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) doesn't apply to the inside of apartment dwellings. Instead, it applies to common areas in apartment buildings and commercial buildings. However, this doesn't mean that disabled people don't have rights when it comes to renting an apartment. Specifically, disabled rights are covered under the federal Fair Housing Act, so be sure to familiarize yourself with this law and the many ways in which it can protect you during an apartment search.
Don't: Focus on Older Buildings
Thanks to the Fair Housing Amendments Act, most larger apartment buildings (those with four or more units per building) built in 1991 or later are required to have some basic accessibility features inside and out. This may include wider doorways to accommodate wheelchairs, ground-level units, and more. With this in mind, you may have the best luck finding disability access apartments if you narrow your search to buildings constructed in 1991 or later.
Do: Ask the Right Questions
Before you even schedule a tour of an apartment, call the leasing office and ask them some key questions that will help you get a better feel for whether their units may offer the disability access you need. If you're in a wheelchair, for example, you might want to ask questions such as:
- how wide are the door openings?
- what is the countertop height in the kitchen and bathroom(s)?
- what type of flooring surfaces are inside the apartment?
Don't: Overlook Housing Programs
There are plenty of federal and non-profit programs available to make securing housing easier for disabled Americans; be sure to explore local programs to get the help you need in finding the right disability access apartment in your area.
By taking the time to understand your rights, ask the right questions, and research programs that may be available to you, you can ultimately find the disability access apartment that best suits your needs. From there, all that's left to do is sign the lease and get settled in.
For more information or help finding disability access apartments, reach out to a real estate agent.