Housing Options Workshop – Living in rental properties
My experiences of trying to find a rental property has been an interesting experience, spanning over 20 years. Over that period, I have had to move properties five times due to the landlord selling their investment properties.
The process of finding a suitable home on the private rental market, for me as a person in a wheelchair, is long and difficult. At that stage in my life, the only disability support equipment I used was my wheelchair, even without the need of a hoist or any other equipment, the search was hard. There were several reasons for this. These are:
You are competing with able-bodied applicants. Landlords have issues if you're just on a pension. They don't think you can afford the property. And if you're in a wheelchair, they assume you will damage the property by hitting walls, flattening carpets, etc.
Finding an accessible home is difficult. A lot of newer buildings are small and are often double story. Even single story houses can have many steps at entry points, that would make ramping them difficult.
Rental houses need to be inspected. This is difficult in a chair, due to access, as well as the fact that other people's furniture is in the home, and are not placed in mind for a wheelchair to get around easily.
If you have found a place that is accessible, with enough room for easy access inside the home, but you need just a couple of modifications, this can be difficult to get approval for. Temporary modifications such as the portable ramp are fine as they can be removed when you leave. Permanent modifications such as handrails added to a bathroom, most landlords will balk at number.
You found a rental property online and you think it might be okay. Seems big enough, but there are stairs at the front that are too big to ramp. However, there are no pictures of the back entrance, but the land slopes upwards, so it could be okay. So you ring the agent for information because you don't want to waste your time to go into an inspection of a home without access. The problem is these agents have hundreds of places on their books and they never take notes regarding access, so they aren't any help to you.
An example of a modification rejection came at the last rental house I lived in. In the dining area was a large drinks bar that took up a lot of room. Without this bar it would be much easier for me to freely move about the room. The bar could be easily removed and re-installed again when need be. We asked the landlord if he could remove the bar, store it in the garage, and re-instal it when we moved out.
The answer came back as "no" because his wife liked the bar. His wife didn't live in the house, and if she ever did the bar would be back in the same space that it occupied. But that wasn't good enough, the bar has to remain in our way because his wife thought it looked good.
So the benefits of renting. If you're accepted and you don't need modifications, then great, you have a place to live.