Safety Checklist for Landlords

There are a lot of benefits to becoming a landlord. For one, it’s a relatively hands-off way to get a potentially significant secondary income. Some landlords become so successful that they actually transform into primary forms of income. Yet you don’t have to put in the same rigid set of hours that you would when working a typical job. In fact, some landlords barely interact with their tenants, contracting that particular job out to property managers. But that doesn’t mean that being a landlord comes without its challenges. In fact, the biggest problems that new landlords can run into are things that you probably haven’t yet thought of. You may be worried about tenants wrecking your property or skipping out on rent. The bigger challenge lies in your responsibilities as a landlord. If you shirk any of them, even accidentally, you could very well end up being held legally responsible for the consequences.

Much of being a landlord is about acting proactively to protect yourself. If you ensure that your properties are as safe and secure as possible, your tenants will be safer; and that means that in the long term, you will be as well. It’s a good idea to make a checklist as a landlord, to ensure that you’re taking care of everything that you need to, and don’t miss a beat. With that being said, let’s look into what that kind of checklist should contain.

1. Secure The Exterior

Your property’s exterior may not be where you think a lot of issues could potentially crop up, but this is exactly what makes it so vulnerable. Whether you own a single family home or an apartment building, there are steps you should take to secure the exterior of your property. This begins with the lights. If exterior lighting isn’t properly installed, residents could be at higher risk of falling prey to criminals when they’re walking from their cars to their doors at night. For that matter, they could very well end up slipping and falling, especially during the winter, because they don’t see slip hazards in front of them. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 17,000 slip and fall accidents each year. On the same note, you should make sure that you’ve taken care of the windows, having them replaced if they’re too old, or repaired if they have cracks or sealing issues. People need to be able to see out of their windows, and though they need to be able to open them as well, you may want to take an extra step and install window pins to ensure that they don’t open too widely. Make sure that the surrounding walkways are clear of debris and safe to walk on as well, without any potholes that people can trip on. Finally, you should move up to the roof and make sure that there is no risk of collapse, or even falling shingles. Not only will these steps keep your tenants safe; they’ll also save you time and potential irritation from tenants as they will inevitably reach out to you about this issue anyway.

2. Check The Appliances

You probably don’t even recognize how many issues that can occur within appliances and the safety problems that they can present. Perhaps one of the most insidious and dangerous problems, however, is the failing smoke detector. Smoke detectors are incredibly important, and it’s more common for them to fail than you might think. Needless to say, this can lead to disaster. Firstly, you need to make sure that your properties all are properly outfitted with enough smoke detectors. Secondly, those smoke detectors need to be checked to ensure that they are running correctly and powered by the right batteries. According to the NFPA and the National Association of State Fire Marshals, all residential smoke alarms need to be operated by a 10-year, sealed-in battery pack. If you aren’t taking care of this issue first, then you’re making a mistake. But in general, all of your major appliances need to be working correctly. Your HVAC system needs to be checked and serviced every year. Furthermore, the air filters must be changed on a regular basis so that your tenants aren’t affected by allergens in the air. Your washer and dryer need to be cleaned of lint and debris regularly, in the dryer in particular this could start fires. Your stove and oven can present fire hazards as well, while leaky plumbing can create water damage which in turn presents the risk of infections or mold. For that matter, a broken pipe with a crack as small as 1/8 inch could leak out 250 gallons of water a day. It’s incredibly important that you stay on top of your appliances, whether you’re handling the issue yourself or working through a property manager.

3. Check The Interior

Of course, any interior check by a landlord should start with a lock check. Locks can easily fail if they aren’t replaced periodically, due to rust and erosion. For that matter, doors can be subject to jamming and need to open and close properly. Make sure all lights are working as they should, checking each one; and in that same vein, look at the outlets and see whether or not they’re prone to sparking. Check floors for sloping, as this could be a sign of structural issues or foundational problems. After that, look over the ceilings to see if they’re sagging or cracking. Even small problems could be indicative of massive ones underneath.

There are a lot of issues that can come up when you’re a landlord. Whether you’re dealing with those on your own or through a property manager, they must be dealt with proactively. This will keep both you and your tenants safe, while at the same time building your reputation as a responsible, caring, and forward-thinking landlord.

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