Homeowners typically get much of our attention as aging in place professionals. We focus on helping them to modify and adapt their homes over time to allow them to remain living in their successfully and effectively long-term. Universal design and visitability solutions and treatments are some of our favorite strategies because they make lives better for the occupants as well as the people who are visiting them. However, there is no reason to limit our attention to just homeowners and to ignore a very large segment of the marketplace who is renting an apartment or home.
The chief difference in our approach to creating solutions for homeowners versus those who are renting is the financial one. Is a renter willing to invest their own money to pay for improvements in a building that they don’t own but call home just the same?
Some renters have a long-term commitment to the place where they are living due to the length of time they have already lived there or because it serves their basic needs. Others may not have decided yet that this is the place they want to remain for several more years. Investing in their rental home would seem to make sense for them unless they expect that the building owner or management company should be making and paying for the improvements.
Other than a few universal design treatments that can be put into each dwelling regardless of the needs of the occupants – or improving the visitability of them – the building owner or management company may not know about individual aging in place improvements that should be considered and implemented on a unit-by-unit basis. Let’s remember that aging in place solutions are individual to the needs of each tenant. It’s possible that the building owner or property manager has not discovered yet what would beneficial for each resident. We can help them with this also.
Usually, we are talking about an apartment building of a few units to dozens of them, but people rent single family homes, duplexes, lofts, and other types of properties also. The question isn’t so much the type of dwelling, the size of it, or how many other units are located in the same building. It is one of what solutions might be appropriate for the occupants for their safety, convenience, access, and general enjoyment that would enhance their quality of life and cause them to want to remain living in that same unit long-term – as a benefit to them and to the building owner.
While there are plenty of opportunities for us to work with homeowners to provide solutions to aid them in remaining in their homes and to enjoy their daily activities in and about their homes, we have a similar opportunity to enhance the safety, comfort, and convenience of renters in the places they call “home.” In some cases, the improvements are going to be tied to addressing specific limitations that people have and be covered under reasonable accommodation provisions.
Some solutions are going to so inexpensive and easy to do that many renters are going to be willing to have them completed even if they are paying for them and even if they remain in the home or apartment when they leave. While they are living there, they will get the benefit of them, and future renters will also.
In many cases, with rising home prices and the tremendous initial investment that people need to purchase a home, they are electing to remain renters – many for years or even indefinitely. Thus, making improvements to an apartment or home that someone is staying in for several years makes sense.
The building or property owner may choose to pay for some improvements, but the renter may be willing to do so even if the owner does not. We’re talking about basic convenience items such as lever door handles, single-lever kitchen sink faucets, and rocker light switches. From that, a strategically placed vertical grab or assist bar near the entrance to the master tub or shower, adding handheld showers, and installing wifi or low voltage technology are good items to include that everyone can benefit from and use.
Flooring, lighting, ventilation, and cabinetry are other areas that can be explored as potential improvements although the building owners or property managers may need to be consulted or involved to authorize such projects.
Just keep in mind, that we aren’t limited to providing solutions just for homeowners, and that many additional people can benefit from what we have to suggest and offer.