How to Incorporate Universal Design Principles in Your Rental Property

How to Incorporate Universal Design Principles in Your Rental Property

Universal design principles aim to create spaces that are accessible and usable by everyone, regardless of age, ability, or circumstance. By incorporating these principles into your rental property, you can attract a wider range of tenants and provide a more comfortable living environment for all. In this article, we will explore the key universal design principles, discuss their benefits, and provide practical tips on how to implement them in your rental property.

Understanding Universal Design Principles

Universal design is an approach to creating environments that are usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. The concept was developed by architect Ronald Mace and is based on seven key principles:

  • Equitable use
  • Flexibility in use
  • Simple and intuitive use
  • Perceptible information
  • Tolerance for error
  • Low physical effort
  • Size and space for approach and use

By incorporating these principles into your rental property, you can create a space that is more inclusive, functional, and appealing to a diverse range of potential tenants.

Benefits of Universal Design in Rental Properties

There are several benefits to incorporating universal design principles into your rental property, including:

  • Increased marketability: A universally designed rental property can appeal to a wider range of potential tenants, including seniors, people with disabilities, and families with young children.
  • Higher tenant satisfaction: By providing a more comfortable and accessible living environment, you can increase tenant satisfaction and potentially reduce turnover.
  • Reduced need for modifications: Universal design features can reduce the need for tenants to request modifications or accommodations, saving you time and money.
  • Improved property value: Properties that incorporate universal design features may be more attractive to buyers, potentially increasing their resale value.

Practical Tips for Incorporating Universal Design Principles

1. Ensure Equitable Use

To create a rental property that is usable by all, consider the following:

  • Install lever-style door handles instead of knobs, which can be difficult for people with limited hand strength or dexterity to operate.
  • Choose appliances with easy-to-read controls and front-mounted controls for accessibility.
  • Provide ample lighting in all areas of the property, including hallways, stairways, and outdoor spaces.

2. Incorporate Flexibility in Use

Design your rental property to accommodate a wide range of individual preferences and abilities by:

  • Offering adjustable shelving in closets and cabinets to accommodate different storage needs.
  • Installing adjustable-height showerheads and grab bars in bathrooms.
  • Considering open floor plans that allow for flexible furniture arrangements and easier navigation for people using mobility aids.

3. Prioritize Simple and Intuitive Use

Make your rental property easy to understand and use by:

  • Clearly labeling all controls and switches, including thermostats, light switches, and appliance controls.
  • Providing clear instructions for using appliances, heating and cooling systems, and other property features.
  • Ensuring that all doors, windows, and cabinets are easy to open and close.

4. Enhance Perceptible Information

Ensure that all necessary information is easily accessible to all tenants by:

  • Using large, high-contrast text on signage and labels.
  • Providing both visual and audible cues for alarms and alerts, such as smoke detectors and doorbells.
  • Installing tactile indicators, such as textured flooring or raised markings, to help guide people with visual impairments.

5. Design for Tolerance for Error

Minimize the potential for accidents and unintended actions by:

  • Installing slip-resistant flooring in bathrooms, kitchens, and other areas prone to moisture.
  • Providing ample clearance around doors, windows, and appliances to reduce the risk of injury.
  • Ensuring that all electrical outlets and switches are easily accessible and protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) where necessary.

6. Minimize Physical Effort

Design your rental property to require minimal physical effort from tenants by:

  • Installing touchless faucets and soap dispensers in bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Choosing appliances with easy-to-use controls and features, such as front-loading washers and dryers.
  • Ensuring that all doors, windows, and cabinets are easy to open and close with minimal force.

7. Provide Size and Space for Approach and Use

Ensure that your rental property offers ample space for all tenants to comfortably navigate and use by:

  • Providing wide doorways and hallways to accommodate wheelchairs and other mobility aids.
  • Installing accessible-height countertops and sinks in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Ensuring that there is ample space around furniture and appliances for easy access and use.


Incorporating universal design principles into your rental property can provide numerous benefits, including increased marketability, higher tenant satisfaction, and improved property value. By considering the needs of all potential tenants and making thoughtful design choices, you can create a more inclusive, functional, and appealing living environment for everyone. Start by evaluating your property’s current features and identifying areas for improvement, then implement the practical tips outlined in this article to create a truly universally designed rental property.

Kurby Team

The Kurby Content Team is a diverse group of seasoned real estate experts dedicated to providing insightful, reliable information for homebuyers, real estate investors, and real estate agents. With backgrounds ranging from real estate brokerage, property investment, and residential home buying, our team combines decades of experience with a passion for demystifying the real estate world. We at Kurby are committed to helping you make informed, successful real estate decisions. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer, a seasoned investor, or a real estate professional, count on the Kurby Content Team to deliver the most relevant, actionable real estate content you need.