As a Suffolk rental property owner, making sure your property meets appropriate rental safety standards is an important responsibility. Although some standards may adjust from state to state or even city to city, there are a couple of standards that each rental property owner must adhere to. According to the National Center for Healthy Housing, housing codes are intended to set a minimum standard for landlords and tenants. Instead of a headache, these standards can be a helpful guide as you prepare your rental home for quality tenants. By bringing your property up to par on the following six items, you can help protect your tenants and your property values – not to mention your bank account.
Stairs and Railings
Slips and falls are a common concern that can surely cause your tenant and their visitors’ significant physical injury. Minimize risk by maintaining that all stairs and railings on the property in good condition. Replace and refinish wooden stairs routinely, and remember to clear concrete stairs of debris, ice, and other hazards. It’s also a great idea to paint stairs with a non-slip coating to keep them from becoming slippery in wet weather. Railings should be at least 42 inches high and should not move or wobble easily. Make sure to replace missing railings and tighten loose fasteners as soon as you notice a problem.
In some states, landlords are required by law to install functional smoke detectors in their rental property. However, even though it wasn’t required, it’s an important safety measure that all landlords should observe. Check your smoke alarms every year and replace weak or dead batteries immediately. It’s also a great move to check if your state requires carbon monoxide detectors along with smoke detectors – a few do. Both types of sensors can help you keep your tenants safe in the event of an emergency.
Doors and Locks
Security is a significant element of the basic rental safety standards that all landlords should meet. At a minimum, your tenant needs well-fitting, good-quality exterior doors complete with both a locking lockset and a deadbolt in each one. The locks should be changed between tenants, and your tenant supplied with a set of the new keys. If your rental is in a city with high crime rates, you might also think about adding a security system. Even if you don’t, it can help enhance your tenant’s safety and discourage would-be burglars with quality doors and locks.
Ground Fault Interrupting outlets (GFIs) have been required since 1971. However, if your Suffolk rental house is built earlier that year, you may need to upgrade your electrical outlets. GFIs are essential as they help prevent electric shocks and fires. When properly wired, these outlets have a circuit that will trip in the event of an electrical surge or a ground fault. Oftentimes, electrical outlets close to a water source, normally located in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and the exterior, should be GFI outlets.
Another significant issue with older rental homes is the presence of lead-based paint. Before 1978, most homes used this type of paint for interior elements. Paint on wooden window sills, railings, and even walls can flake off, spreading toxic metals all around the property. Lead is particularly dangerous to a small child and furry friends. To assess whether your rental has lead-based paint or not, have it examined. If you spot lead in your rental property, invite a certified specialist to remove the lead paint. You must also inform the renters of the presence of lead paint.
One final rental safety standard that you should always pay attention to is the presence of pests. From mice and rats to insects, pests of any kind are both a nuisance and a disease carrier. Your responsibility is to make sure that your rental home is free of pests before leasing it. But if the pests keep coming, even if your tenants are not keeping the property clean, it is still your responsibility to get rid of the pests. The safest way to know if your property is pest-free is to contact a local pest control company to service your property on a schedule.
By guaranteeing that your property follows these basic safety standards, you can significantly reduce your risk of expensive lawsuits and other challenges. Yet, keeping a property up to code will require both time and effort. If you want to spend your time pursuing other interests, try hiring Real Property Management Hampton Roads to handle the property maintenance for you. Our Suffolk property managers are proficient with rental safety standards and aware of what to do to protect both your tenants and your property value. Contact us online or call us at 757-395-4274.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.