There is a lot a landlord can do in order to make their rental property more attractive to potential tenants. But besides the cosmetic upgrades, there is something else that should be on the agenda if you are to rent out your property to a family – and that is safety. Safety is always important for most people, but when it comes to families with children, it simply becomes a priority. Not only do you want to make your rental attractive to potential tenants by making it safe for their little ones but you also want to steer clear of any possible accidents that might make you, as a landlord, liable. It is prohibited to discriminate against potential tenants because of their familiar status, so, if there is a possibility that a young family will inhabit your rental, it is a no brainer that you should do everything to childproof your rental property. While it is not too expensive or difficult, there are quite a few things to keep in mind. So, here are 10 tips to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Start with the staircases
If your rental property has stairs anywhere, the first thing that you should do when childproofing is dealing with those. Since you cannot legally prohibit your tenants’ child from accessing certain parts of the property, try to make the stairs as safe as possible. Staircases need to have railings, and you must use some non-slip material where necessary to prevent falls and injury. You might be reluctant to install a baby gate since it requires drilling into the walls. However, since a baby gate is indispensable for a family with small children, you can talk to your tenants and come to an agreement that will benefit both of you. For instance, you can have them pay for it, as well as for the repairs once they move out.
Get locks for the windows
Windows are the next in line to secure when childproofing your rental property. Regardless of whether we are talking about the ground floor or a height, every window needs to be equipped with a safety lock if it is still not since children are eager to explore everything they can open and a fall could harm them even if from the ground floor. All you need to do is install latches on the windows and this hazard is already out of the way. If we are talking about windows on higher floors, it might be necessary to install window guards as well, but even if it’s not a requirement it’s worth considering it. Moreover, when it comes to windows, you also need to keep the window treatment in mind. Window blinds with cords pose a strangling hazard to small children so going for those without cords would be the safest option.
Deal with balconies and railings
If your rental has balconies, terraces, porches, or anything like that, it is a no brainer that appropriate railing must be installed to prevent falling. However, don’t just go for any railing, since not all of them are created equal. The railing must be strong and sturdy, as children have the tendency to hang on them, but it must withstand an adult’s weight as well. It is also paramount to choose railing that doesn’t allow little feet to climb over it. The rails should be dense enough so that the child cannot get through them (or get stuck).
Secure outlets and cables
Electricity is a dangerous thing to play with, and since children are curious, we have to take steps to prevent them from getting hurt. First of all, outlets should be equipped with covers that the child won’t be able to operate. You can do this yourself or you can have your tenants do it. Since it’s not a big investment, it should not be a problem in either case. Besides the outlets, you also want to prevent children from tripping over cables or pulling on them. So, keeping the cables out of sight as much as possible would be a great idea. In places where it’s not an option, a reliable cable cover will do the job and hide the cables perfectly.
Install locks on drawers and cabinets
As we already mentioned, children will try to open anything they can reach. Besides windows, this also includes cabinets, drawers and so on. This could be dangerous for several reasons. Children might open drawers and climb upon them, causing the furniture to trip over, which is extremely dangerous. They can also explore the contents of cabinets that might have harmful things inside, such as chemicals, medicine, and so on. Thankfully, it’s very easy to prevent them from doing all that. All you need to do is get some child safety locks and install them on all the drawers and cabinets that are within reach of a child. Again, you can do this yourself or leave it to your tenants, but in that case, you will not be in control of what kind of locks they install. So, make sure you discuss this with them in advance.
Sharp edges are a hazard
When you look at a room, even things that don’t look hazardous at first glance can pose a risk to small children. Such are sharp edges and corners which you can most likely find on a lot of furniture pieces in your rental. Making sure these won’t cause injury is quite easy. All you need are some safety guards. While it is up to your tenants to think about these things, since it’s inexpensive, you can show that you are an attentive and reliable landlord if you prepare these yourself or give them to your tenants. They will surely appreciate the gesture.
Making sure that all the detectors and alarms are working properly in your property is important regardless of who your tenants are to be. Even if there haven’t been any issues with them, make sure you double-check your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector as this simple step can save lives (and a lot of trouble). False alarms can be just as dangerous as the alarm not working, as they can cause tenants to switch the detector off. Since you don’t want any of that, inspect the detectors regularly.
Think about the outdoors
If your rental property has a garden or backyard of its own, you will have a few more things on your hands when it comes to childproofing. Still, since safety is a priority, you are not advised to skip this step. Firstly, if the yard or garden of the property is not enclosed, building a fence should be on your to-do list. Children can wander off in the blink of an eye and get hurt in traffic or get lost. If that should happen, the parents can easily hold you liable for a lack of fence on your property. So, it is clear that installing a fence would not only give peace of mind to the parents that their child can enjoy the outdoors in a safe manner but it would also protect you from any kind of legal trouble. If we are talking about an apartment, it would be wise to have speed bumps installed around the parking lot if it is within your power.
Consider pool safety
If your rental property has a pool, this asset can make it very attractive to some tenants. At the same time, families with small children might feel uneasy if there are no proper pool safety steps in place. First of all, the pool should be enclosed with a fence and a gate that small children cannot open on their own. Just like with balcony railings, you must choose a fence that cannot be climbed. Besides this, it would be a good idea to install a pool cover so that the possibility of falling into the pool when it’s not in use is nonexistent. A non-slip surface around the pool and some safety signs are also part of proper pool safety.
Talk to your tenants
The issue of childproofing your rental property might not be that expensive, but it certainly requires a lot of effort and it can only work if there is proper communication between you and your tenants. Make sure both of you are on the same page about who is responsible for what and how much they are allowed to make permanent changes to your property in the name of child safety.
This article has been contributed by Stella Ryne.