Monthly Archives: June 2015

Before You Rent Out Your House: Make it Safe for Tenants

Rental properties can be a great and relatively easy investment, particularly if you find responsible renters who love the apartment or house and plan to live at the residence long term. As a landlord, you have many responsibilities which include making your property safe and sound for any potential renters.

Even if you are hesitant to put a lot of money into a property that may get wrecked by rowdy renters, you must keep tenants safe from falls due to a broken stairwell or scalding burns from an old water heater. Your investment in your renters’ safety will save you a lot of money and hassle in the long run.

Your Renters Have Rights

As a landlord, you have expectations of your renters that you make clear in the lease which most often includes paying rent on time and being respectful of the rental property. However, if you fail to make the rental property “livable” you are violating your renters’ rights and they have the right to withhold rent payments, ask for compensation, or even sue you for negligence.

Even if your rental property is older and requires a little work, simply reducing the rent will not compensate for lack of safety or livability. In order for a rental property, apartment or house, to be considered a habitable living space (also known as Implied Warranty of Habitability) includes the following, but may not be limited to:

  • Structurally Safe and Sound: Stairs, floors, foundation, and the roof should all be intact and safe for inhabitants. This means that the roof should be free from leaks and flooring should be strong.
  • Keep the Basics Operational: An apartment with faulty wiring, bad plumbing, or broken elevators are a recipe for disaster and tenant injuries. A good question to ask yourself; would you live in your own rental property? If you say “no”, you’ve got some work to do.
  • Heat & Water: Heat and water are basic needs. Your renters should be supplied with hot water and heat for the colder months. Make sure that equipment to heat water, such as water heaters or boilers, are in good working condition and set to a reasonable temperature. Too hot and your tenants can be injured badly.
  • No Exposure to Toxins: Many rental properties are old homes and buildings built with materials that are now known to pose health threats (such as asbestos and lead paint). Renters must know if they could be potentially exposed to toxins and you, as a landlord, should do your best to eliminate or reduce hazardous material.

When considering the purchase of a rental property, you must always consider the safety of the building. A certified home inspector, upon thorough inspection, can report what may need to be repaired. If too many things need fixing or replacing to make it safe before you rent, it may not be a worthy investment. Remember, as a landlord, your obligations are to recognize your renter’s rights and make your property as safe as possible.

Preparing for a Party or Event? Make Your Home Safe and Secure

Do not take unnecessary risks if you are hosting a party or event. Keep your guests safe, and avoid a potential injury or a lawsuit due to hazardous conditions. In fact, spinal cord injuries have been known to happen from a walk down a flight of stairs gone bad. It’s easy to overlook safety issues with all the activity of setting up a party, but the extra precautions will be worth the effort.

Examine the inside and the perimeter of the event location. Are there cracks in the sidewalk or potholes in the driveway? These could cause a slip and fall, making you potentially liable for any injury. If you have a bouncy house for a child’s party, make sure it is properly anchored and have an adult supervise it. Walkways should be free of obstructions or debris; clear out any furniture that obstructs the passageways. You should consider putting away small objects that can easily break or be swallowed by toddlers. You may want to use plastic and paper products rather than serve food and drinks in glass containers that can break.

A primary cause of accidents is a pool that is ungated or unattended. If you have no gate around your pool, designate one or more persons to keep an eye on swimmers and small children around the pool area. A fenced pool is not a guarantee that children won’t find a way in, so all children must be supervised at all times if a pool is on the property. Be alert for toddlers falling in the pool or jumping in without a parent. Water makes the poolside slippery, so ask guests not to run. Walking with bare feet on cement or slippery tiles could result in a head injury or worse. If adults are drinking alcohol, this adds a risk factor as well.

Take Safety Precautions to Avoid an Accident

Some safety precautions to take are:

  • Place decorative markers on sliding glass doors so no one runs into them.
  • Put extension cord covers on electrical wires to prevent tripping.
  • Put safety runners on slippery surfaces such as high polished wood or tile.
  • Cordon off staircases if small children are present or if stairs are worn; make sure hand railings are secure.
  • Keep knives or sharp objects beyond the reach of children.
  • Monitor alcohol intake of your guests; make sure they do not drink and drive.

It is well worth your while to make a checklist ahead of time for party and event safety. Make especially sure that there are sufficient fire exits and bathroom facilities. If it is a pool party or barbeque, have supervisors at these locations. An event or party can be a fun and memorable experience for you and your guests. Keep everyone safe and secure and it will be a hit!