Renting a Home

When searching for rental housing, some planning can help make your search easier and more effective. Here are some checklists and search tips to use.

Checklists for Searchers Back to Top

Before you view rental housing:

  • Consider the possibility of not being able to access the unit. Think about driving past it or use Google street view, or just give the landlord a heads up about your situation. This may save you time in your search.
  • Before you arrive, try to learn whether you’ll be able to maneuver inside the space and whether you need to bring someone to help you in and out. As an alternative, have another person check it out on your behalf.
  • Ask if it has the most basic accessibility features you need.
  • Consider whether you currently need or plan to have a caregiver living with you or frequently being in and out of the space. What might this mean for your needs?

When you see the unit:

  • Outside
    • If you are a driver or user of a personal vehicle, check to see if there is an accessible parking space. If you are a transit user, assess the proximity of transit and whether there is a  zero-barrier pathway to it.
    • Confirm there is at least one zero-threshold entrance into the home.
    • If you are a wheelchair user, determine whether there is sufficient space at entry (both interior and exterior) for a 5’ turning circle.
  • Inside
    • 36” wide doorways (34” minimum) and 5’ turning circles
    • Lever door handles (round knobs can be adapted with a lever device)
    • Hard-surface flooring with zero or minimal (1/8”) thresholds
  • Bathroom
    • Shower or tub that is workable for you using a shower chair or transfer bench, or a roll-in shower
    • 36” doorway and a 5’ turning circle within the bathroom
    • Access to the vanity (clearance under countertops)
    • Access to the toilet
    • Room for both you and your caregiver, if necessary
    • Possibility of adding grab bars (ask if shower walls are reinforced)
  • Kitchen
    • 32”-34” countertop height with a depth of 24” or shallower
    • Accessible sink (knee space, sink height and depth)
    • Accessible stove top and oven (side-opening)
    • Accessible fridge

After you see the rental unit:

  • Ask yourself whether you can tackle some barriers with relatively simple solutions (e.g. grab bars) or other low-cost options (e.g. non-slip stickers or additional lighting). Or are there structural barriers to you living there?
  • Consider how long you intend to stay in the space. Does it need to work for you for the next year? Five years?  Longer? How will your mobility change during future timeframes?
  • Assess whether you could use the space or layout in a different way that would make it work for you.
  • Determine whether the landlord is open to small changes, if these changes would enable or improve accessibility. Some landlords will agree, as long as you return the unit to its original condition before you leave or you convince them the changes (e.g. replacing older carpet with laminate flooring) would increase the home’s value. Be sure to include any such agreement in the lease. 
  • Note: landlords have a duty to accommodate to varying degrees, depending on their size and circumstances.

Optimizing Your Searches Back to Top

When searching for your accessible housing, ensure you use all advanced search options to your advantage, so you view only apartments that will suit you. Some websites feature filters that provide for accessibility, but keyword searches can often be the most helpful. Consider terms such as wheelchair, barrier-free, accessible, zero-step, zero threshold, mobility, and/or adaptable. Aging-related terms, such as age-in-place and age-friendly, can also reflect accessibility features in listings.

For Searchers in Calgary Back to Top

  • Rentfaster: Advanced search features can be used to select wheelchair accessible buildings, or keyword searches can help find units appropriate for you.  
  • Kijiji Calgary: After navigating to the real estate section of Kijiji Calgary, keyword searches can be used to help filter units.
  • Home Ownership. If you cannot afford to buy a home in the traditional manner, two programs can bring home ownership into reach, as long as you meet certain eligibility requirements.