As a Semmes rental property owner, safeguarding that your property meets appropriate rental safety standards is a noteworthy responsibility. Although some standards may vary from state to state or even city to city, there are a few standards that all rental property owners should adhere to. According to the National Center for Healthy Housing, housing codes are designed to set a minimum standard for landlords and tenants. Rather than an annoyance, 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 better protect your tenants and your property values – not to mention your bank account.
Stairs and Railings
Slips and falls are a common concern and can easily cause your tenant and their visitors’ significant physical injury. Minimize risk by keeping all stairs and railings on the property in good condition. Replace and refinish wooden stairs regularly, and remember to clear concrete stairs of debris, ice, and other hazards. It’s also a good idea to paint stairs with a non-slip coating to keep them from getting slippery in wet weather. Railings should be at least 42 inches high and should not move or wobble easily. Be sure to replace missing railings and tighten loose fasteners as soon as you notice a problem.
In most states, landlords are required by law to have functional smoke detectors in their rental property. But even though it wasn’t needed, 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 good idea to check if your state requires carbon monoxide detectors in addition to smoke detectors – some do. Both types of sensors can help you keep your tenants safe in the event of an emergency.
Doors and Locks
Security is another one of those basic rental safety standards that all landlords should meet. At a minimum, your tenant requires well-fitting, good-quality exterior doors complete with both a locking lockset and a deadbolt in each one. The locks should be substituted between tenants, and your tenant supplied with a set of the new keys. If your rental is in an area with high crime rates, you may likewise consider adding a security system as well. Even if you don’t, you 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 Semmes rental house is older than that, you may need to upgrade your electrical outlets. GFIs are vital because 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. In general, electrical outlets close to a water source, most commonly located in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and the exterior, should be GFI outlets.
One more common issue with older rental homes is the presence of lead-based paint. Before 1978, many homes used this type of paint for interior elements. Paint on wooden window sills, railings, and even walls can flake off, spreading toxic metals around the home. Lead is particularly dangerous to small children and pets. To see whether your rental has lead-based paint or not, have it tested. If you find lead in your rental property, contact a professional experienced in lead paint removal. You have to also disclose the presence of lead paint to your renters.
One final rental safety standard you should 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 guarantee that your rental home is free of pests before leasing it. But if the pests return, even if your tenants are not keeping the property clean, it is still your responsibility to get rid of the pests. One way to know your property is pest-free is to contract with a local pest control company to service your property on a schedule.
By maintaining your property to meet these basic safety standards, you significantly reduce your risk of expensive lawsuits and other hassles. But keeping a property up to code can take both time and effort. If you would rather spend your time pursuing other interests, consider hiring Real Property Management Azalea City to handle the property maintenance for you. Our Semmes property managers are well-versed in rental safety standards and know what to do to protect both your tenants and your property value. Contact us online or call us at 251-345-6224.
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.