How to Know if Your Rental Meets Safety Standards

Landlords have a responsibility to keep their rental properties habitable. Part of that responsibility means abiding by certain safety codes. Therefore, it’s important that you ensure your property meets all applicable safety standards for both legal and financial self-protection.

As a landlord, ensuring your rental property meets the required safety standards is important for a number of reasons. For one, it keeps you from potential legal trouble. And two, it’ll help show your valued tenant that you care for their well-being.

So, how do you know whether your rental property meets safety standards? The following are the things you’ll want to direct your focus on.

Heating

A broken heater can cause you more trouble than you think. If the heater breaks and your tenant reports it to you, you must deal with the issue within a reasonable time. Otherwise, you may be subject to a lawsuit.

In addition to a potential lawsuit, a broken heater could also lead to a fire outbreak, risking your tenant’s life.

With that in mind, regularly inspect the heaters to know their condition. You’ll also want to keep them away from resources that may be flammable.

Plumbing

A damaged plumbing system could lead to flooding. Water damage can cost thousands of dollars and a long time to fix. For this reason, you’ll want to conduct preventative maintenance regularly to ensure the plumbing system is working as it should.
a sink with running water
As you inspect your property, pay particular attention to the efficiency of the gutter and drainage. Also, inspect the roof for damage. Be on the lookout for missing or damaged shingles, among other issues.

Pest Infestation

This is one of the top reasons for tenant complaints. The implied warranty of habitability requires that a rental home be free of pests to be habitable. As such, as a landlord, you have a responsibility to ensure your home is free of bugs, rodents, termites, and any other pests.

A pest-infested home is not only uncomfortable for your tenants, but it’s also a risk to the property itself.

If your property becomes infested, call exterminators right away. You’ll also want to engage them on a periodic basis to prevent common pests. Ideally, exterminate your home once every quarter.

Paint Safety

Federal law requires that landlords disclose lead-based concentrations in their units. The disclosure specifically applies to landlords renting out homes built prior to 1978.

Lead-based paint can be a health risk when inhaled or ingested, especially to children and the elderly. Therefore, you’ll want to hire expert help to test for the presence of lead-based paint if you’re renting out an older home.

Appliances

In most rentals, landlords provide appliances such as a dishwasher, oven, refrigerator, microwave, and laundry machines. If you’re providing such appliances, you’ll want to maintain them to the required safety standards.
a fully furnished kitchen]
An appliance that is damaged poses the risk of overheating or exploding. Appliances that have reached their end of life are also a safety concern. Ideally, always have a record of the life expectancies of appliances in order to track normal wear and tear. This way, you’ll be able to know when a replacement or repair needs to be done.

You’ll also want to buy quality appliances when furnishing your home. This will prevent frequent calls from tenants requesting maintenance.

Detectors

Carbon monoxide can be hard to detect since it is odorless and colorless. When inhaled, it interferes with oxygen delivery to the body’s organs leading to health issues like confusion, headaches, fatigue, and dizziness. It can also lead to death. In fact, at least 430 people die in the U.S. from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning each year.

Having a functional detector will help your tenants detect exposure to this dangerous gas. When detected, it’ll trigger an alarm and alert them of the impending danger.

When routinely inspecting your property, make sure to check the working of the detector. Test the detector by holding down the “test” button until you hear two beeps sound off. The last thing you’d want is for the detector to fail when your tenant needs it the most.

Flooring

Are you targeting families or retirees? If so, you’ll want to pay attention to the flooring material you’ve installed on the property. Slips can be tragic. For this reason, experts recommend waterproofing non-slip surfaces.
a dining room with wooden floors
Also, be on the lookout for signs of structural issues like cracks and unevenness. If you notice such an issue on the floor, seek help from a foundation inspection specialist immediately. Routinely check the condition of the walls and the ceiling.

For the walls, check for potential structural issues like cracks. Cracks that are at least 25 millimeters could point to possible structural damage.

For the ceiling, choose a material that has low thermal conductivity. This will ensure that your tenant is safeguarded against extreme heat.

Doors and Windows

It’s vital that you ensure the entry and exit points of the property are safe. Check their conditions for any compromises.

Is the door strong enough? Does the lock function as it should? Is there any visible bending or warping? Can you notice any new nicks or shiny metal edges around the keyhole? If you notice any of those signs, get in touch with a reputable locksmith right away.

Do the same for windows. Does the lock function as it should? Does it open and close properly? According to ADT.com, up to 23% of all break-ins reported will occur through the first-floor windows. This means it’s even more important to ensure the most accessible windows are secure.

Electricity

Electrical issues can pose serious safety concerns. They are especially common in old properties that haven’t been upgraded to meet current safety codes.
a lightbulb hanging from wires in the ceiling
Common signs of electrical issues in a home include dimming or flickering lights, hot outlets or switch plates, and unusual odors. If you notice such issues, call an expert for an inspection.

Bottom Line

While this list isn’t exhaustive, these are some of the most common issues that you’ll need to address to ensure your rental meets the required safety standards. Limestone Country Properties can help keep your rental property habitable. We’re a leading property management company in New Braunfels. Get in touch to learn more!

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Janice Vargas