Home can be a sanctuary, a place where we can be ourselves. However, if you are in need of an accessible home, you may find that you have to look farther afield to get the property that is right for you. Here are a few tips on how you can find a new house, and if necessary, make modifications to improve your quality of living.
What to Look For
Whether you are looking for your forever home or a place to rent, house hunting for a property that supports your mobility needs can be stressful. Online resources can help, as some websites now refine searches to include accessible features. You could also seek advice from organizations like Habitat for Humanity or the National Disability Institute. Shape your focus not only on whether a home meets your mobility needs, but on what services are available in the area.
If possible, use Google Maps to investigate the condition of sidewalks, as well as how wide they are if you use a wheelchair. In terms of homes themselves, consider how adaptable the property is or if it already contains essential characteristics. Look at how wide hallways are and how accessible electrical outlets are. Are fixtures like sinks practical for you, or would they require modification?
Assert Your Rights
Unfortunately, not everyone knows about the rights that are afforded to people living with a disability. Under the Fair Housing Act and the Fair Housing Amendments Act, a landlord cannot discriminate against a disabled renter. They cannot push questions that could be considered discriminatory, such as asking about the extent of your disability. A landlord must show multiple vacancies if they are available rather than limiting you to ground-floor options. These rights extend to homebuying, as an owner cannot refuse to sell to someone with a disability. Equally, you cannot be subjected to different requirements or conditions that may in some way disqualify you from buying a property.
Adapting Your Home: What You Need to Know
You may find your perfect home only for it to still require some adjustments. These adaptations can be big or small, ranging from installing walk-in showers to lowering or elevating cabinets. Small changes can make a world of difference, such as putting pull handles on shelves, doors, and drawers or adding clappers for lighting. However, you may have plans far larger than that. Some hallways may not be sufficiently wide, while some fixtures may need replacing for ease of use. A sink or kitchen counter that isn’t easily-accessible can impact your quality of life. If the modifications you need are significant, it’s wise to bring in contractors. However, be vigilant before committing to anything. Thoroughly research companies, check out reviews, confirm licences, and make sure that there are no hidden costs.
Not having sufficient resources to fund all of your modification requirements doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, because you may be eligible for financial assistance. This support can be invaluable, and may cover the entirety of your expenses. Depending on the organization, you may be required to present evidence of your disability or how you intend to use funding. If you purchase your home, you may be able to take advantage of home equity or state or local assistance. However, if you are renting your property, your options might be more limited, but could still include grants and tax credits. Again, consult with organizations focused on supporting the disabled community, as they may have additional advice you could use.
House hunting when you have a disability is no easy task. Be aware of your rights, and remember that putting in the hard work now can help ensure you have a safe and comfortable home for years to come.