A "Wheel Chair Friendly" Vacation Rental?

8 Replies

I know it is illegal to discriminate, but has anyone purposely created a STR for physically handicapped vacationers? I am purchasing a property 3 blocks away for a large, well-known medical establishment (3 hospitals, bio-science facility etc.)- 20 minutes from dt Denver. I would like maximize occupancy by cross-marketing to both Denver vacationers and those in town for medical needs.

I am not discriminating in anyway, but it will be quite an expense to create a "wheel chair friendly" rental and more wear and tear on floors, door ways ect. I also fear if I provide this service and market it as such I could be liable if an accident occurs. 

For those who offer this option, do you feel that the higher occupancy/rental fees make up for the cost associated? I would really like to create an option for those seeking a private alternative to hotels, but is this a can of worms? Any insight? Am I over-thinking?

@Chelsea Mastin , Welcome to BP.  I have4 no practical advice, as I have just started my first vacation rental in the last month or so.  I think finding a niche and working it hard is a great idea.  Just get short term rental insurance like everyone else and go for it.  You will make mistakes, and you will learn as you go, but doing nothing will get you no where.  You might consider advertising with some of the local health care facilities to help business out.  Maybe even give a special rate to folks in for health problems.  Either way good luck.

@Chelsea Mastin   Look into the aspects of Universal Design.  This makes places accessible for those with mobility disabilities and better for others as well.  Wikipedia has a good description of it, so start there. 

Maintain adequate insurance, as you would for any property. This includes an umbrella policy in addition to insurance for the dwelling. 

A person with a wheelchair may or may not pose any additional wear and tear, depending on how responsible they are and how the space is designed. 

Focus on marketing to all people, with or without a disability. Use terms such as "universal design" and "accessible" in your marketing. On the STR websites they will have a list of amenities to check off what you provide. When you have a feature that is considered favorable by accessibility standards, you can note it there. People with disabilities or other needs will filter their search to find a place that has what they need. You want your place to pop up in their searches.

You won't have much competition, since most STR places are not wheelchair accessible. Remember the shower needs to be a roll-in type. Also be prepared to accommodate assistance animals. Aim to make the place comfortable and welcoming, not sterile like a medical facility. Take a tour of some assisted living retirement facilities and see how they have set up apartments that meet the needs of people who are aging and/or have disabilities.

Seek advice from your local disability service organizations and agencies that serve seniors. Try to meet with some consumers in your target group and get their perspective. Once you're set up for business, create some great marketing brochures or flyers and take them to the local hospitals and rehab facilities. Spread the word among professionals such as social workers, physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists.

Kudos for thinking about those who are presently under-served by the hospitality industry! 

Everyone either has a disability or is temporarily able-bodied. So the number of people you can serve is tremendous! :-)

@Jerry W. I think you for the warm welcome. Great idea of offering a special rate and working niche. Guess either way I do plan to have the property for many years doesn't hurt to try to give it a go! Thank you so much!

@Marcia Maynard Wow, gold star for your wonderful insight! 

I love the idea of doing some market research! Lol, I actually work in a hospital across town. I could easily ask our patients those questions and visit the rehab clinic on lunch- maybe even talk to some of the nurses. Brilliant! ha! I've been been going over all the ADA requirements, but could probably go further in comfort department with simple things that might make a world of difference. I never wound have thought to go that extra step. Nice thinking! The property does have a wonderful fenced in area to accommodate service animals. Could provide some extras for the furry ones as well.

Yes, it will be far from hospital-like- even if that is for my own sanity. ;) It's very true and deep that we are all temporarily able-bodied. Might really have found a place in this industry that make me really happy. Thank you so much!

I think being close to the hospital can add value for family members that have to stay at the hospital on a longer term basis. My wife translated for a couple that was staying in Colorado due to seing a specialist and it would have been a blessing to have a home close to the hospital to rent.

In a short term rental consider furnishings too. Overly high beds and tables can be unfriendly even if the place is accesible. Crowded rooms too.

@Chelsea Mastin I love this idea! Anything that can set yourself apart from the thousands of other listings I think could definitely work and help out travelers in need at the same time. As an STR manager in Denver, I'm always looking for ways to make my properties stand out. I would try advertising on Facebook and make a dedicated page for your property so people can search for it. Market to local hospitals, recovery centers, etc. I get surgery recovering surgery patients occasionally but I'm sure there is a good niche for accessible homes. Good luck!

@Chelsea Mastin so I am all about going after the niche'. Niche's allow you to charge a premium because you have a unique fit. Don't give away your services. 

One thing to consider. I once looked at purchasing a property that was used as a group home serving physically disable people. I'm not sure how long it was used as a group home but it was hammered. Wheel chairs take a toll on the doors, trim, baseboard and drywall. If you look closely at hospital rooms you will see wide doors, metal door frames, chair rail all around the room, hard surface floors, and rubber cove base for baseboard, . There is a reason for that. If you are going that route you need to plan for extra maintenance or look at hardening the property from the get go. 

Thanks @Kevin Grinstead , @Colleen F. , @Tyler Work and @Bill S.

 Talking to contractor tomorrow and with your help I have a design for the top floor and add/marketing campaign. I am so thankful to have found this community. Thank you for the wonderful ideas; I will keep you posted as the project comes together. 

This could be a great niche for other's as well. I may write a little article about the process once it's figured out to share data collected. I will also track of expenses along the way to see if this makes sense from financial perspective.

The property is a SFH- 1900 sqft, 3/2 with private entrance to basement. I am adding a bedroom to basement which will allow me to rent it either as two private 2/1's, or as one 4/2.  

Though the basement will not have a full kitchen, I may be able to use it for comparative purposes related to occupancy.

I may do yet another experiment in future renting by room using 1, 3 or 6 month leases targeting medical students and see how that route compares. There are so many possible avenues.

It is zoned R2. I was originally going to turn it into a duplex but with recent changes to STR laws I am choosing to keep as a single family for now. It has a large work shop and 3 car garage (both detached) that I can owner occupy or turn into an additional rental in future depending on future STR and zoning laws.

Thanks again for all your help!!!!

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