At least 70,000 new homes will be built in the Netherlands in 2019 according to NVM, the Dutch estate agents association. It is not clear how many of these houses will be accessible. What is clear is that up to 45% of people with mobility limitations live in rented accommodation in the Netherlands, according to data from the European statistics on income and living conditions.  In Haarlem, it is not only difficult to find a house to rent, but also difficult to find affordable housing for expats to rent, which may mean finding an accessible home is even harder in the city. Therefore, if you have found a home in Haarlem that is not accessible, there are things you can do to create accessibility within the property.

Requirements for accessible housing.

The Netherlands is famous for its old world charm, but this also means that the cities and homes weren’t necessarily built with disability in mind. There is, however, a requirement in the Netherlands that all new constructions should be accessible up to the front door of each apartment according to the European Federation for Living. This is specifically for buildings that have a total height that exceeds 12.5 meter and a total floor space that exceeds 3500 m2.

You can make your home accessible.

What will determine the extent of your home modifications for accessibility purposes is the rental contract. There are contracts that do not allow tenants to do something as simple as repaint their home. However, you can add things like battery powered LED lights to light your homes’ doorways because they are less likely to cause trouble with your landlord.  If you find a carpet in the property, removing it can make it harder to move around for people using wheelchairs or crutches.

You can replace your carpet with removable vinyl flooring. Door thresholds can also prove difficult for people using crutches and wheelchairs, but you can fix that out using portable rubber or aluminum ramps. Aluminum ramps are very light in weight while rubber ramps can be cut to fit door thresholds. In the bathroom, add a plastic stool you can sit on as you shower, and non-slip handrails that have suction cups. These suction cups mean you do not have to drill through the wall to fit the handrails.

Technology can enhance accessibility.

For people who do not own their homes, devices that can be controlled from an app on their phone can be a great convenience. Smart home gadgets like learning smart thermostats, smart lights, and virtual personal assistants can enhance your independent living. For example, you can use your voice to control the lights in your home through Google Home or Amazon Echo devices. A learning thermostat can adjust itself automatically and smart lights can turn themselves off automatically.

Generally, the Netherlands as a whole is becoming more accessible especially after the Tweed Kamer voted for the 2006 UN treaty in 2016. The treaty calls for full participation of the disabled in society by making shops, public transport and other businesses completely accessible.

Jane Sandwood

Jane grew up in Kent and has spent most of her career working in international trade before starting a family. By wanting to spend more time with her young children she found herself moving into working from home then freelance writing. Now she's campaigning to help end isolation; especially for older adults who have lost their old support structures.
Jane Sandwood