As a Hanover County rental property owner, confirming that your property meets appropriate rental safety standards is an important responsibility. While 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 calculated to set a minimum standard for landlords and tenants. Rather than a nuisance, 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 certainly 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 frequently, 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 must be at least 42 inches high and should not move or wobble easily. Be sure to replace missing railings and tighten loose fasteners the instant you notice a problem.
In most states, landlords are required by law to have functional smoke detectors in their rental property. But even if 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 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 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 an area with high crime rates, you may even consider adding a security system as well. Although 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. Even so, if your Hanover County rental houseis older than that, you may need to upgrade your electrical outlets. GFIs are important because they help prevent electric shocks and fires. When correctly 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 usually located in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and the exterior, should be GFI outlets.
Another common problem with older rental homes is the presence of lead-based paint. Before 1978, several 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 identify whether your rental has lead-based paint or not, have it tested. If you find lead in your rental property, speak to a professional experienced in lead paint removal. You must also disclose the presence of lead paint to your renters.
One ultimate 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 ensure 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 Richmond Metro to handle the property maintenance for you. Our Hanover County 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 804-417-7005.
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.