The exterior and outdoor areas of apartments that are wheelchair accessible must meet specific guidelines for tenants with disabilities. Ramps from parking areas to sidewalks must be installed, whether they are poured concrete or another material. Similarly, ramps must be installed going into a building if the entrance can be accessed by stairs. Raised thresholds are also not allowed in wheelchair accessible apartment buildings, and exterior doors must be a minimum of 32-inches wide to allow for clearance into the building.
Common areas, including clubhouses and laundry facilities must meet the same requirements for door width, thresholds, and ramps. Also, common areas with an upstairs or downstairs area must include an elevator, and all areas must be accessible to people in a wheelchair. Tiny areas that don't allow someone to turn in a scooter or wheelchair or spaces with obstacles, for example, would violate the Fair Housing Act.
The apartment itself must also meet very specific requirements. Similar to the rules pertaining to the exterior and common areas of an apartment community, the interior must have wide doors and hallways that are able to accommodate a wheelchair or scooter. While living areas and bedrooms usually aren't a concern for those who use a wheelchair, the kitchen and bathroom areas must also allow for comfortable usage and maneuverability.
In addition to space, additional features of a wheelchair accessible apartment include easy access to light switches and electrical outlets so they can be reached without a risk of falling. While most countertops are at 36-inches, in an accessible kitchen, the counters are lowered to around 30-inches to allow people to reach the counter more easily. Some traditional lower cabinets are removed to allow a wheelchair to fit under the counter to allow for cooking preparation.
The bathroom can be the most difficult area in a home for someone in a wheelchair to navigate. In a wheelchair accessible home, not only is there more floor space for turning, but the fixtures are customized. Rather than a standard vanity, either a wall-mounted sink or a pedestal sink is much more convenient. Raised toilets with hand bars on the sides make the transition for someone in a wheelchair much safer and less difficult. While many apartments have a standard bathtub and shower combination, a handicap-accessible bathtub with a door in the side and bars for leverage makes bathing much safer and easier, too.
Whether you are new to Gainesville and are seeking an apartment that is wheelchair accessible or you are looking for a new place that is more comfortable, there are plenty of options. From senior living to student apartments near UF, and everything in between, there are cheap apartments for rent that meet all varieties of lifestyles.