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ALTERNATIVES TO BUYING A HOME
Perhaps buying a home is not feasible or desirable for you. Chapter 2 has some tips for you if you are considering rental homes or apartments in the section Rental Property.
If you or your loved one has had a disability before the age of 21, you will gain some helpful information in Residential Services for People with Development Disabilities.
When facing the difficult decision for yourself or your loved one to leave the current home for an assisted living home or a nursing home, it helps to be as educated in your choices as possible. Long Term Alternatives and a Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home in this chapter is a thorough planning guide to make this decision an informed one.
There are many alternatives to making a decision about the right place to live and Chapter 2 reviews alternatives to buying a home.
Rental of Home or Apartment?
Renting property may exclude maintenance of property problems, however, you may not agree with the landlord’s interpretation of fit and habitable when repairs need to be made. (See section 118 of the Landlord and Tenant Act.) You do have recourse in the event of a dispute. (See section 121 of the Landlord and Tenant Act.) In most tenant agreements of houses, you are responsible for lawn care. If you are unable to do the lawn care yourself, this will be an additional expense to be considered in renting a house. If a house is more than you wish to care for, you may decide an apartment is more suited to your needs. A house may afford more privacy and “noise control” but may be more expense in utilities.
Rent fees: Don’t take on more rent than you can afford. Don’t be tempted by just a little more room that may take you over your budget. If you’re paying more than 28 to 30 percent of your net (after taxes) income on rent, including utilities and lawn care, you’re paying too much.
If you are new to the area, you should talk to a few realtors about neighborhood qualities, such as convenience to supermarkets, transportation and entertainment. If you know that you will be moving to a new location, consider staying with a relative or friend in the area for a period of two weeks to one month, offering to pay for your share of the food, utilities and phone bills. That way you can have a base from which to launch your search. Visit local realtors, read the local papers and talk to your new colleagues. If this is not possible, leasing agencies, realtors or property managers, local papers, phone books, city maps and the Chamber of Commerce are good sources to learn about the city or town before you move into the area.
Leasing agents, realtors or property managers want to “sell” you on the property they are representing, but they can be very helpful and many have just the place you’ve been looking for. When you set appointments to look at property, whether a house or an apartment, you’re under no obligation to rent any of them, so you can get a better feel for what’s out there.
Advertised rentals must be seen to be believed. However, looks can be deceiving, too. Refer to the Checklist in Chapter 1. When you cross the threshold into a prospective rental property, there are so many things vying for your attention, making objective observations and decisions difficult. A favorite color scheme may hide a multitude of flaws. It is helpful to create a notebook that contains a checklist of the pros and cons of each property you’ve seen. You might even sketch out a rough outline of the rooms, the number of windows and comments on the view. Here are some ideas of what to look for. They may vary if you are looking at a home or an apartment.
When Considering Either Rental Home or Apartment
Convenience: Is it close to shopping, schools, place of work, place of worship and transportation?
Utilities: For what utilities are you responsible?
Terms of Lease: Is it a lease or a tenant at will? Is it six months or one year?
Entry: Is the threshold flush or can it be made accessible with a small modification? Does the door have a lever if you are unable to turn the knob? If a modification is needed, is the landlord willing to make it? Is the door wide enough? When you enter is there a turning radius, if you use a wheelchair?
Living Room: Is there a turning radius if you use a wheelchair with whatever furniture you will be using? Is there easy access to other rooms? Are the doors and doorways wide enough?
Halls: Are they wide enough? Is there space in the halls to allow for turning radius of a wheelchair or walker if needed?
Kitchen: Is there turning radius in areas needed? Can you open the refrigerator, oven door, and dishwasher? Is the microwave reachable? Check all features in the kitchen: stove, sink faucets, dishwasher, refrigerator and disposal. Let each item run until you are satisfied that it functions properly.
Bathroom: Is the door wide enough? Is there a turning radius? Do you need a seat in the shower? If you need to use a wheelchair in the shower, is it accessible? Do you have room to use the commode? Do you need cabinet doors or the face of the vanity removed for wheelchair access to the sink? Check all bathroom facilities: toilet, sink faucets, and shower. Does the hot water work? Does the hot water in the shower change temperature when you run the sink or flush the toilet? If it does, you can be sure that when someone flushes the toilet in the apartment above or below yours, you will have a cold or scalding burst of water in your shower.
Carpet: Is the carpet pile and/or pad too high for wheels of chair or walker to turn easily?
Lighting and Thermostats: Can you reach and use switches and thermostats?
Closets: Are rods where you can reach them? If not, will the landlord move them?
Conditions of parking lot: Is it clean or covered with trash or oil leaks? Is handicapped parking designated with both signage and proper loading and unloading hatch marks? If tenants do not have reserved parking, is there a designated handicapped parking space close to the entrance of your apartment? If not, is apartment manager willing to designate one for you?
Office: Is there easy access to the office? Is there a ramp that you can manage? Is there a sidewalk? Is there handicapped parking in front? Is there a door that you can open or is it automatic?
Sidewalks: Are they smooth? Are they wide? Are there curb cuts? Are noises of parked vehicles hanging over the sidewalk to make passage difficult or impossible? It would be a good idea to look at both during the day and evening after parking places are full.
Mail Box: Is there easy access? Is there a sidewalk from your apartment to your mailbox?
Laundry: If there is not a washer or dryer in the apartment, is there easy access to the laundry room? Can you access washers, dryers and supplies in the laundry room or apartment?