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What To Look For In An Accessible Rental Apartment

For people living with physical disabilities, searching for a safe and comfortable rental apartment can be difficult. Walk-ups are out of the question, and even some high-rise buildings have limitations. Some buildings make common spaces accessible but not the units. You really have to do your homework to find accessible rentals in your community.

Building access

For those who rely on mobility aids, such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs and motorized scooters, getting in and out of the building is so important. There should be at least one accessible entrance with a ramp or flat surface that allows a wheelchair or scooter to safety enter. If there is an alternate entrance with stairs, there needs to be a handrail. Once inside the building, there should be at least one elevator large enough to fit a mobility scooter or wheelchair.

elderly woman in wheelchair

Know your rights

According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, landlords or “housing providers” are required to make accommodations for tenants with disabilities so long as the accommodation would not cause “undue hardship.” Undue hardship is examined based on cost, source of funds and health and safety requirements, and nothing more. More often than not, accessible upgrades will benefit the landlord in the long term, as they can make the building more attractive for many other tenants. Some features are simple, such as installing a visual alarm in the unit of a visually impaired tenant.

Guide dog helping blind man in the city

Purpose-built accessible rentals

If you cannot get a traditional apartment retrofit to accommodate your needs, you may need to look into specifically accessible housing. Some buildings, designed for seniors and persons living with a disability, include wheelchair-friendly apartment units. These units have wider doors, keyless locks, accessible showers, grab bars, low cupboards, larger rooms and so forth. These buildings also have large elevators and ground-floor access. Many of these types of properties have waiting lists, so it’s important to put your name in sooner rather than later if you hope to get in.

Person in a wheelchair washing hands

Search for accessible rentals

Start your search using Once you’ve found a few places you like, contact the landlord or property manager to inquire about accessibility.