Landlords have several responsibilities when renting a home and many have to do with the safety of their tenants. Certain systems must be included in the home in order to comply with local regulations. It is up to the property owners to take the steps required. Whether you are considering renting your home for vacationing families or on a long-term lease, keep in mind these safety issues.
All homes must be equipped with smoke alarms. These systems should be equipped with long life batteries and tested on a regular basis to ensure reliability. Some larger apartment or condominium complexes may include a sprinkler system, but detached or semi-detached houses can get away with adequate smoke alarms. Check with your local building code to find out how many units are needed.
Provide a fire escape plan for your tenants. Keep the fire doors and windows clear of obstructions and properly maintain these fire exits. In some cases a stairway will need to be constructed to provide a fire escape from upper floors. Also be sure to mount fire extinguishers on each floor in convenient locations, near the kitchen and garage, as well as the bedrooms.
Your tenant agreement should include restrictions on the use of open flames inside the building, as well as limitations to outdoor features such as barbecues and fire pits.
All elements of the electrical system should be inspected before a tenant occupies the building. It’s a good idea to leave out the owner’s manuals for all electrical appliances within the property, and provide the tenant with a place to keep this paperwork safe.
Show the tenant the main breakers or fuse box, and provide a supply of fuses if applicable. Ensure the breakers or fuses are properly labeled and that the entire system has been installed and maintained by a licensed professional electrician.
If you have gas appliances on the property, such as gas dryers, gas stoves and gas grills, ensure that the manuals are available. Have all gas lines marked with a yellow marker for identification and indicate the location of the main gas valve. Instruct your tenants how to turn the gas off should a problem arise.
Carbon monoxide detectors should also be installed and tested on a regular basis. These monitors help to reduce the risk of accident and illness should a gas leak occur.
General Safety Issues
All windows and exterior doors should be fitted with durable locks. If a security system is installed, ensure that your tenant has the access codes. Consider installing a peephole in the main door to enhance security when opening that door.
Your home should be fully insured against fire and flooding damage. Let the tenant know that they are responsible for obtaining insurance to protect the contents.
Keep up on all general maintenance issues, such as repairs and replacements, and hire professionals to keep clear snow from the walkways and driveway in the winter months.
The safety of your tenants is of utmost importance. Take all of the necessary steps for fire, electrical and gas safety to provide your tenants with a safe, comfortable home. You’re also protecting your property and ensuring a return on investment for years to come.
Shannon Ryan is the online community manager for the Nusite Group, a Toronto waterproofing and specialty trades company.