For those with disabilities, it can sometimes be difficult to find a home that fits their specific needs. As a landlord or property manager, it is your responsibility to meet any needs that are required of your tenants. In this blog, we will discuss some of the basic changes that you can make in your unit to help make your rental inclusive to all.


General Alterations

When altering your space to accommodate those with disabilities, it is best to follow Universal Design Principles as much as possible. These are made to provide usability of a space to all people of all abilities without the need for adaptation. The 7 principles are:

  1. Equitable Use – providing the same means for everyone instead of isolating individuals through separate options (ex. a no-step entry as opposed to stairs and a ramp).
  2. Flexibility in Use – Offer choices that anyone can use.
  3. Simple and Intuitive Use – Provide explanations and information for how to use equipment.
  4. Perceptible Information – Allow everyone access to said information.
  5. Tolerance for Error – Minimize hazards.
  6. Low Physical Effort – Make things require minimal effort to use, lessening fatigue.
  7. Size and Space for Approach and Use – Spaces are easy to navigate and objects can be reached and utilized.

With these in mind, let’s start with entering the home. Make sure that all entrances and exits are either ground level or have a slanted set of stairs. Make sure there are ramps on either side of the stairs for assistance. Avoiding steps or level changes – both with the interior and exterior – will allow anyone to use the space. If you cannot make these modifications, install a ramp. Next, make sure that all entrances, doorways and hallways are at least 36 inches wide with a preferred width of 48 inches. This will allow them to fit a variety of mobility devices, including wheelchairs. In every scenario where large changes can’t be made due to permits, space, etc., provide alternatives. They can be ramps, elevators, stair chairs or something else. Make sure that there are clear instructions on how to use these devices. Keep in mind the legality and regulations put in place by organizations such as the Canadian Centre for Housing Rights.

Next, make sure everything is reachable depending on a tenant’s mobility. These include door handles, outlets and light switches. Swap door knobs with lever-style handles and toggle light switches with rockers or touch-sensitive ones. These small changes will make a space more inclusive.

Lastly, change out any carpeting with slip-resistant flooring. Carpets can impede the functionality of mobility devices, so removing these will help any disabled individuals move around the home easier.



To make entering different rooms easier, install automatic doors. These will close behind a person once they have entered the space. Having these will make entering rooms easier and save time from having to maneuver closing doors. Also, flatten any raised thresholds as these can impact the accessibility of rooms. Lastly, lower the peepholes – or provide secondary ones – in entryway doors so all individuals can use them.



Everyone wants to be comfortable in their bedroom, so allow clearance on all sides of the bed for mobility devices. As well, having a lower bed will make transferring from it to any seated devices – or vice versa – easier. Create the option for adjustable bed rails so they can be utilized depending on the abilities of the tenant. If there is a closet, have lower railings, shelves and bars to allow anyone to use that space.



Overall, a bathroom should have enough room to fit any equipment a disabled individual may need. To make the space easier to use, install grab rails around toilets and showers as they will reduce the risk of accidents. Also, install a shower bench for additional support. For sinks and cabinets, provide knee clearance and tilt the mirrors.



Kitchens can be a difficult spot to manage as a person with mobility issues. To accommodate this, make sure all lower cabinets are not too deep and will allow for easy access to resources. Lower the cabinets and countertops if possible to allow for daily use. Like the bathroom, allow for knee clearance and space to move devices. Lastly, place appliances at an appropriate height for use and get a stove with knobs on the front, allowing those in wheelchairs to use them if they choose.



If you have access to a parking lot or spot, include accessible parking spots. Ensure these are accompanied by curb ramps and wide sidewalks or walkways.


Community Spaces

If your property has community spaces, like gyms, parks, meeting places or rec rooms, make sure to incorporate the universal design principles in those spaces as well. This will allow individuals of all abilities to use the space, facilitating healthy habits and fostering a community.


Things to Keep in Mind

It is important to create clear, effective communication channels and systems so you can assist all tenants as needed. If there are speech or language disabilities, consider alternatives like written notes, braille, sign language, large print, pictures/symbols, gestures or other assistive devices.

With the previous topic in mind, there are many other disabilities beyond physical. When creating emergency measures and systems, ensure they can assist everyone. Have visual cues – like light changes – alongside auditory cues, like alarms. Also, if you can afford it, provide disabled tenants with a personal alarm system for them to use if they cannot reach the phone and/or are injured.