As a landlord, tenants expect you to provide safe and habitable housing. Safe housing conditions not only include security against potential break-ins, but also extend to the structural integrity of a building as well as regular maintenance.
While landlords are legally required to provide habitable housing, going above and beyond to maintain a safe environment can help you build a strong relationship with your tenants. With that in mind, here are some ways to ensure that your rental is safe for tenants.
Secure doors and windows
Ensuring that all doors, including main entrance doors, screen doors, and doors to individual units, are secured with locks can significantly reduce the risk of break-ins. Deadbolts on outside doors can provide an added security measure against break-ins. In addition, make sure each unit has solid doors, preferably made out of wood or steel. Other security measures, like chain locks, peepholes, intercom systems, can also make tenants feel safer in their rental.
Along with doors, all windows should have working locks and secure screens. If your property’s current windows have mesh fly-screens, consider replacing them with updated screens to prevent them being ripped out during a break-in.
Keep smoke alarms fully functional
Maintaining fully functional smoke alarms is legally required in every rental unit. If you’re not sure how to upkeep smoke alarms, consider enlisting the services of a professional smoke alarm maintenance company. A smoke alarm maintenance company will come to your property twice a year and ensure that your smoke alarms are in good working order.
Additionally, you’ll receive a Certificate of Compliance that shifts the liability from you to the smoke alarm company in the case of an accident.
Conduct routine safety checks
Although protecting against potential break-ins can help make tenants feel safer in their homes, home maintenance and regular safety checks are also essential. Make sure to conduct routine safety checks on all internal and external structures and complete any necessary repairs as soon as possible.
During a routine safety check, you should determine whether each ceiling, roof, wall, or floor in your property has experienced damage or lacks structural integrity. You should also check the landscape to ensure that there are no potential risks to tenants. Finally, check and maintain appliances like ovens, dryers, and heaters, as well as power outlets and lights.
Properly screen tenants
Screening potential tenants can help you choose better tenants for your units. In turn, you’ll also have the peace of mind knowing that your new tenants won’t pose potential risks to your current tenants.
To screen tenants, start by putting together a cohesive rental application. In order to determine whether prospective tenants have been responsible with payments in the past, make sure to run a credit check, as well as verify income and check for previous evictions. Asking for employer and previous landlords references can give you an idea of the prospective tenant’s character.
You should also run a criminal background check on each prospective tenant. Since criminal information is public record, running a background check will reveal both serious and minor offenses. In order to run a background check, you’ll need an applicant’s name and date of birth. Since applicants with a criminal history may try to hide this information, ask for an ID to verify who they are.
Although an applicant might look good on paper, it’s important to follow your instincts. If something seems off during the application process, consider moving on to the next applicant. Ultimately, your goal is to create a safe and secure environment for your current tenants, so don’t be afraid to follow your gut.
While landlords are legally responsible for maintaining a safe property for their tenants, taking extra security measures can help reduce tenant turnover and improve your reputation as a landlord.
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