Property Management Blog

Safety Reduces Liability

System - Thursday, March 5, 2020

Providing safety for tenants is a common sense approach to reducing liability for property owners, as well as complying with building codes and laws. It is important that both the interior and exterior of a property can provide a safe environment for a resident.

A major key for reducing liability is to “think preventative.” Paying for maintenance repairs can reduce or avoid costly legal problems. Courts have a very dim view of property owners that ignore hazardous maintenance. It can have an additional benefit of encouraging tenant retention. A happy tenant is less likely to move if their home is comfortable and safe. This reduces loss of rental income.

Interior Safety

  • Fix flooring problems such as exposed carpet tacks, loose tiles, ripped linoleum, and stretching carpeting when necessary.
  • Replace any flooring when it becomes a trip hazard as soon as possible.
  • Repair any unsafe electrical problems, such as broken receptacles, unsafe wiring, or faulty stove/oven and dishwasher units immediately.
  • Maintain or replace smoke alarms so that they work properly in the event of fire.
  • Install carbon dioxide detectors in the property. This is a relatively inexpensive item to promote tenant safety and now required by law.
  • Provide and install a fire extinguisher. This may also reduce your property insurance rates.
  • Replace or fix window locks, ensuring that the tenant can easily open all moving windows to provide escape routes in the event of fire or to prevent a burglary.
  • If neighborhood problems require bars on windows and doors, install the type easily opened from all moving windows and doors. Then, to be on the safe side, have the fire department check them.
  • Installing double cylinder deadbolts with thumb throws is a big safety item.
  • Replace inside keyed deadbolts. These can trap a tenant if a fire occurs and the key is missing.
  • Remove or fix any problem that could promote mold problems, such as leaking or dripping faucets, broken bathroom fans, etc. If necessary, have the property evaluated by an experienced mold expert. This is one of the highest liability areas for landlords today.
  • Always have asbestos or lead-based paint removed properly. This is mandated federal law and the fines are huge if there are violations.

Exterior Safety Issues

  • Install proper lighting around the property to help deter or expose waiting predators of all kinds.
  • Keep bushes and trees trimmed to not only assist with exterior lighting, but also avoid areas where tenants can trip and injure themselves.
  • Removing large tree branches can also prevent damage to roofs, people, and tenant vehicles.
  • Repair large cracks that cause uneven sidewalks and driveways - another trip hazard.
  • Remove dangerous tree roots – this can cause large cracks in sidewalks and driveways.
  • Have hanging wiring, falling gutters, and falling roof tiles, removed immediately.
  • Remove high grasses or debris that could promote fire danger.
  • Repair, replace, or take out unsafe patio covers, sheds, fences, or structures that could cause a hazard.
  • Repair or remove dangerous potholes, rocks, or toxic waste.
  • Fix the source of any standing water. This not only eliminates potential pest problems, but can also reduce water bills.
  • If there is a pool or spa, be sure there is proper maintenance of the water and that it complies with all safety codes.

Many of the above items are simple and inexpensive; some are not. There may be repairs that are mandatory by state or federal law. They can all reduce or prevent costly legal issues. If you have questions or concerns regarding your property, call us to discuss them. We make it a priority to promote the safety of your tenants and “Protect Your Investment.”