There are several safety measures you can implement as a rental property owner to entice prospective tenants. By child-proofing your rental home, you’ll be able to attract tenants with children, and at the same time protect yourself from potential liability.
Fortunately, good child-proofing strategies are not pricey. Below, we’ve broken down a few strategies to childproof your rental property in order to protect your tenants’ children, and in turn, steer clear of lawsuits. Whether you own a residential rental property or a short-term rental property, here’s how to child-proof your rental:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the number one cause of death among children aged 1 to 4. With that said, if your rental property comes with a pool, it should be surrounded by a fence to prevent children from swimming without supervision.
You should also add warning signs if you own a multi-family property (this may or may not be required by your state, so it’s best to verify with your property management firm). It can be as direct-to-the-point as, “Children under age __ must be accompanied by an adult.”
For further safety precautions around your pool, install a pool cover to prevent children from falling in when no adults are around. Add a security alarm to the fenced-in section to alert parents in the event that their children attempt to swim without supervision.
Windows are perilous on upper levels, however, they can pose a risk whatever the level. If the windows in your multi-story rental property do not come with safety locks, you can purchase them for a cheap price. You could also add window guards that allow you to open the windows while preventing your toddler from shoving the screen out. Be sure to move any furniture (e.g. beds and cribs) that children can use to climb to the window, as well.
You could add cordless window coverings – they’re the safest choice for children who tend to play with cords. However, if your rental unit already has window coverings with cords, such as corded blinds, be sure to securely fasten them away from reach.
Don’t forget to double-check the rules and regulations on window coverings, as they vary by state. In New York, for example, property owners are obligated to add window guards to rental properties with tenants aged ten and below. Consult your property management company today.
Another common cause of accidents in a rental property is the staircase. Stairs should be strong enough to withstand the grip of a child hanging on the rails or an adult grasping for support after slipping. To protect your tenants from slip-and-fall accidents, ensure that communal steps are made of non-slip materials and that the pathway toward the stairs is clear of any patio furniture.
Don’t forget to child-proof the top of the stairs with a gate. Be sure it’s not a pressure-mounted gate, as this won’t stop a child from tumbling down the stairs. Buy a baby gate that can be screwed into the wall. Alternatively, you could also consider allowing tenants with children to install their own baby gate at the top of the staircase.
Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
As the landlord, you are legally responsible for making sure that the smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, etc. are in good working condition, regardless of whether you’re renting to tenants with children. Eliminate the possibility of a fatal scenario by checking whether or not the detectors work.
When conducting a regular rental inspection, make sure to test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Remember that the batteries need to be replaced at least once per year.
It’s the parent’s responsibility to make sure their children don’t climb up the cabinets. However, to avoid lawsuits, you should still child-proof your property by adding locks to the cupboards. If you don’t want to damage your cabinetry with screws, go for the stick-on ones with magnets.
Cupboard corners should also be wrapped with padding. That way, in case your tenant’s child bumps their head on the cupboard edge, they won’t get injured.
If you or your property management agent decided to furnish your rental property, don’t forget to child-proof all of the furniture edges. The coffee table should be baby-proofed, as your tenant’s children will inevitably run around indoors. The corners of the kitchen counter should also be protected, as these tend to be sharp, and can cause a head injury to your tenant’s child.
Cords and Sockets
Electric wires and cords should not be left out in the open. Conceal them to ensure your tenant’s children can’t reach them by accident, or when they’re crawling about on the floor. This is one way to safeguard your tenant’s children from accidental strangulation.
Plug in safety plugs in unused electrical sockets to keep kids from putting anything in them or poking them with their fingers. Although deaths due to electrocution are rare among children, it is still possible, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
This is one of the reasons why you shouldn’t decorate your rental property. Children and decorations can be a dangerous combination.
If you’ve already invested a lot of money on interior design and filled your rental with fragile decorations (e.g. decor made of glass), you might not want to promote your property as a family-friendly rental. You won’t be pleased to find out that your tenant’s children caused chaos, and shattered all of your precious pieces.
If interior design is your thing, you could consider turning it into an adult-only accommodation. However, do note that you may not be able to do this for long-term rental properties, as the Fair Housing Act (FHA) bans any discriminatory act.
Need Help Child-Proofing Your South Florida Rental Property?
Let the experts at Luxury Property Care help. We’ve been in the business for over a decade, which means we know the relevant laws about child-proofing rental properties. With our expertise, you can ensure that your rental property is extra safe for your tenants and their children.