Rental property owners have the responsibility to provide their tenants with safe and habitable housing. Not only is it the law, but focusing on safety can prevent accidents and other problems that can lead to crime on your rental property, injuries for tenants and visitors, and lawsuits for landlords.
Here are some safety guidelines for every landlord and property manager:
- Conduct regular property safety inspections. Check for leaking pipes, broken windows, broken or rotted stair treads, and damaged wood on railings, balusters and decks. Inspect electrical wiring and make sure smoke and CO2 detectors are installed according to building codes and are in operating order.
- Perform preventative maintenance. Fix what needs to be fixed, especially things that cause a safety hazard, like tripping hazards, broken locks or unsafe railings.
- Provide fire extinguishers for each rental unit. Educate tenants on escape routes in case of a fire.
- Take care of broken tree limbs, snow and ice immediately. Clean up piles of fallen leaves, especially on the stairs, where they can cause slipping.
Preventing crime is everyone’s responsibility. To discourage criminal activity, tenants should:
- Keep vehicles locked and avoid leaving items in them in plain sight.
- Never leave valuables in vehicles.
- Observe their surroundings and report any suspicious activity, persons or vehicles.
- Remind tenants that they are responsible for the actions and behavior of all their guests.
- Never copy keys.
- Not allow strangers into a building with controlled access doors. Have them contact the person they are visiting.
Landlords and property managers should:
- Keep parking areas, sidewalks, common areas and stairwells well lit. Ask tenants to inform you of any burned-out lights.
- Provide properly locking doors and windows.
- Trim shrubs and trees around windows.
- Communicate with tenants. Ask about any potential crime or safety problems.
- Regularly inspect properties for signs of potential criminal activity.
- Include a clause in the lease that states tenants will be evicted for dealing, selling or manufacturing drugs on the property, or for allowing such activity by others.
- Screen all prospective tenants. Run a criminal background check on each applicant, so you know that they are who they say they are. Tenant screening will help keep violent criminals or sex offenders out of your rental property, and will help keep everyone safer.