7 steps to making your property more senior-friendly

Emily Long
Emily Long | 5 min. read

Published on February 6, 2018

Baby Boomers are among the fastest-growing demographics of renters. While the oldest Boomers are in their early seventies, many residents of this generation plan on aging in place—so it’s important to ensure that your properties can accommodate renters of all ages.

There are many reasons why you might want to rent to seniors, but this demographic may also present some challenges if your property isn’t designed for them. Regardless of whether you are prepared for senior tenants, keep in mind that it’s illegal to discriminate based on age or disability—even asking about these subjects could get you into trouble. You are, however, required to make accommodations at the tenant’s request to help them live more comfortably and safely.

Senior-friendly modifications, if made during the building or renovation process, could be attractive features for prospective tenants. Seniors—and their family members—will appreciate thoughtful design that keeps their needs in mind, such as fall prevention and ease of mobility. These upgrades are a worthwhile investment, as many senior-friendly accommodations will support the health and safety of tenants of all ages.

#1: Start with the Stairs

Repair uneven stairs and install handrails that are wide in diameter on both sides for easy gripping.

Building codes set the minimum stair rise (height) and tread (depth), but keep in mind that even these guidelines may not work for those with limited mobility. Increase safety and comfort with a 7-inch rise and 11-inch tread.

Add non-slip flooring and permanent contrast strips on top and bottom stairs to improve visibility.

#2: Illuminate the Area

Install motion-sensing lights in entryways, hallways, stairwells, and around the exterior of your property. These lights brighten dark spaces for everything from late-night bathroom trips to emergency evacuations. They can also spook potential intruders.

If motion sensors aren’t an option, place pairs of three-way switches so lights can be turned on and off from multiple locations—the top and bottom of a stairway, for example.

#3: Tidy Up Tripping Hazards

Ensure that carpets sit flat and that no corners or edges could cause tenants to trip.

In multifamily properties, keep common areas clutter-free, and leave ample room to maneuver around any furniture.

How can property managers make sure that rentals are safe for seniors? Find out on the #BuildiumBlog! Click To Tweet

#4: Get a Grip

Change out standard round door knobs for door levers or handles, which are easier to grip and turn.

Replace door pulls on cabinets with D-shaped handles for easier gripping, too.

#5: Build Better Bathrooms

Install walk-in showers in place of bathtubs, which can be challenging for those with mobility issues. Grab bars mounted on shower walls and around toilets can be used for stability as well as for support against falls. Use slip-prevention flooring in the shower and throughout the bathroom.

If a complete bathroom remodel is out of reach, transfer benches that straddle the side of the bathtub are a less expensive alternative.

#6: Reconsider the Kitchen

Select kitchen appliances that have large, easy-to-read displays as well as simple and clear functions. Side-by-side refrigerator and freezer combinations offer easy access to both compartments.

Add pullout shelves, available at most hardware stores, to kitchen and bathroom cabinets for easy access and more efficient storage. Consider removing cabinet doors to create open shelving for better visibility.

#7: Tie in Intuitive Technologies

Use home automation for increased safety and ease. Smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors run their own diagnostics and send notifications to a smartphone app if anything is amiss. Smart locks allow tenants to enter and exit using fobs, bluetooth, or numeric codes, which means no more fumbling with keys at the door. While smart tech can be very complex, a few simple upgrades can be helpful for tenants of all ages.

Invest in home security to protect both your tenants and your property. A monitored system sends help quickly in the event of break-in, fire, or flood. You can enable safety features like glass break and door/window sensors, as well as two-way voice communication between your units and the monitoring center. Some systems even integrate with medical alert devices. Home security is available for both single-family homes and apartment buildings.

Learn 7 steps to make your rental more senior-friendly on the #BuildiumBlog! Click To Tweet

Have you made any modifications to your rental properties to accommodate renters of different ages? Tell us about it in the comments!

Read more on Maintenance & Improvements
Emily Long

Emily Long is a freelance writer based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She writes about tech, home automation, and finance with the occasional dive into health and wellness. When she’s not living out of a suitcase, you can find her practicing yoga, running Utah’s best trails, or attempting to perfect her coffee brewing skills. Follow her on Twitter at @emilyanndc.

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