Home safety for your tenants

Written by Douglas Ross in Renting on May 22, 2017

Home safety for your tenants

A landlord is required to provide a level of home safety and security for their tenants. This comes with the expectation that they will in turn pay rent on time and keep landlords informed of any urgent repairs to their investment.

Each state and territory in Australia has differing legislation regarding both a tenant and landlord’s responsibilities when entering a rental agreement with one another. Tenancy Check provides a quick summary of these differences and links to the relevant state/territory’s legislation.

Yet, despite all the relevant legislation, providing a safe environment for your tenants isn’t overly complicated and involves strong and healthy lines of communication between your and the tenant, often mediated by your property manager. Here are some key things to consider before you sign up your first tenant:

Home safety is pool safety

Unfortunately, Australia continues to struggle with drownings in all of our waterways, with beaches recording the highest number of drownings in 2015/16 with 63 deaths. Pools however, were not far behind during that year, recording 45 drownings, which was higher than the 10-year average. With this in mind, it is integral as a landlord that you provide proper fencing. In a Royal Life Saving report on 2015/16 drownings, fencing was absent in 27% of cases and faulty in 35% of cases of pool drownings. Beyond this, ensure there is no furniture or scalable objects adjacent to fencing that children can use to reach pools.

Secure your curtains and secure your cupboards

That reads like a trailer to a truly boring horror movie. Yet, it is important that you make sure tenants can secure blinds. This prevents children from getting caught in loose cords. On top of this, look at installing BDRs to avoid the need for unsecured cupboards that may fall on children. If space does not allow for this, be open to tenants’ requests to secure their furniture to walls. Agreements should be in written form and could include the proviso that your tenant will either pay for the repair and repainting of any walls that they have drilled into when securing furniture.

 Work together

Have your tenants provide a list of any things they deem unsafe through a condition report. This could include issues such as water leakage or structural faults. This establishes an element of trust between you and the tenant, ensuring that they feel a responsibility towards you for the monitoring and maintenance of your investment, while expecting you provide suitable repairs quickly and effectively.

Regular inspections

On top of your own scheduled inspections, done by either you and the property manager or just the property manager, ensure any repairs made by a contractor are inspected post-completion. If you don’t do this, you may be responsible for any negligence in the work of your contractor. Employ a third party to regularly inspect the property for such things as the status of your appliances, wiring, all lighting (especially that which is hard to access), electrical circuits and heating. Using a third party gives both you and your tenants peace of mind.

Lock it up!

Ensure your tenants have easy access to all the locks in the property. It is all-too-common for tenants to have a key for the doors but not for one or more windows. If your property is within the inner city, consider adopting extra security measures, especially on the ground floor. If you are unsure of the minimum requirements, see what your insurer says about minimum security arrangements.

Clean up that toxic waste

Ok, perhaps not toxic waste, per se, but before purchasing your property a building inspector should have highlighted any toxins within the building, such as lead paint or asbestos. A pest inspector will have highlighted any possible pests such as vermin or termites. One very common problem within rental properties, however, is rising damp. It is your responsibility to ensure a property is not toxic for your tenants to even breathe in. If you wouldn’t sleep in a moldy room, why would you ever expect your tenants to? The effects of mold spores on the respiratory system can be very hard to treat. It is better to deal with these threats as soon as possible, rather than letting them fester.

Pool fences and fixed cupboards on your mind? That surely means you’re a parent; check out our post on how to spot the perfect family home.