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Property and holiday accommodation with wheelchair access

Landlord Tips: Accessible Housing Modifications

Despite latest figures claiming that 4 in 5 people will develop some form of disability during their lifetime, there is a huge shortage of accessible properties available for rent. Those that are accessible can be hard to find, as many estate agents and property portals do not have a search function for these types of lets.

Many agents and landlords are unaware of what makes a property truly accessible, believing that an exterior ramp, safety rails and a walk-in shower/wet room are substantial modifications. To help, here are some changes that can be implemented to make rental properties accessible.

Kitchen Counters

Standard worktops are too high for wheelchair users and therefore make everyday tasks much harder to perform. To make your kitchen accessible, install both standard and lower counters, to suit people with a wide range of disabilities. You could also consider adding a lowered sink and hob, a side opening oven and open space under worktops so that disabled users can position themselves to prepare food.

Wireless Controls

For individuals in a wheelchair or those who have been diagnosed with a muscle condition, reaching and using manual controls can be a struggle. While you could lower light switches and heating controls, wireless systems allow users to easily manipulate their environment. There are a wide range of wireless controls – some of which can be controlled through mobile phone apps – that can be used to change settings on heating and lighting, answering telephones and even for locking doors.

Doorways

There are two modifications that can be made here: wider doorways and swinging doors. For doors to be accessible, they should measure a minimum of 750mm in width. This includes both internal and external access points. At specific points, such as the bathroom, swinging doors can also be very useful, as they provide easier access and close without assistance. However, these should not be installed in areas of high fire risk, such as the kitchen.

Slip Resistant Flooring

This is a key but often overlooked modification. While it may look nice, slippery, high sheen lino or laminate flooring is not an appropriate choice for accessible accommodation. Instead, choose high grade non-slip vinyl solutions in areas such as the bathroom and kitchen, which are easy to clean and promote easy mobility.

Location and Property Type

Obviously, you cannot change the location or type of property that you own, so this is not a modification. However, when many people think about accessible properties, they think of bungalows in the suburbs. With the majority of disabled people in the UK being of working age, they want to have an active life, which could mean a flat or house share in the city. Sadly, these types of property are rarely accessible, so if you own a property in a popular location, consider the above changes.