Safety is one of the primary areas of concern for tenants.
In fact, a Real Estate View survey conducted in 2014 showed that 53.9 per cent of renters ranked safety as always important.
While both landlords and tenants have responsibilities regarding the safety of a rental property, there are some areas landlords should watch out for to keep their tenants safe and to avoid any legal risks.
Figures from Australia’s child accident prevention foundation Kidsafe also highlight the importance of ensuring a property is free from hazards.
According to the Kidsafe website, every year around 250 Australian children aged fourteen and under are killed and 58,000 are hospitalised by unintentional injuries.
Kidsafe notes that most of the accidents which occur inside homes and backyards can easily be prevented.
Landlords should also be aware that ensuring a property is safe for tenants, particularly for those with young families, could increase the number of rental applicants and reduce vacancy periods.
To assist landlords, we’ve compiled the following tips to help ensure a property is safe for rent and appealing for those who have young families.
Install cleats to secure any blinds and curtains
Landlords are obliged to ensure all loose cords and chains for curtains and blinds are able to be secured before renting a property. This is to help prevent children from using them to climb to look out of windows, accidentally being tangled, or worse suffering from strangulation.
Since the early 1990’s at least eighteen deaths of children have occurred as a result of cords not being correctly secured.
While it’s the tenant’s responsibility to ensure any curtain or blind cords are tied appropriately and to place furniture out of reach, the landlord is responsible for installing the cleats. If an accident occurs and blind and curtain cleats are not in place, the landlord could potentially be sued for negligence.
Landlords should ask their Property Managers to check all internal window coverings, blind and cord cleats to ensure they are as safe as possible both prior to rental and during regular inspections.
Weigh up whether pools and play equipment are positive inclusions
Swimming pools and children’s play equipment are popular features in many Australian homes, but this doesn’t mean these items always add value for landlords or entice potential tenants.
While swimming pool items make a splash when it comes to adding depreciable value; a landlord must ensure these areas are safety compliant, meet regulations for their state and are well maintained.
Safety is also a concern if you’re planning to rent a property with children’s play equipment in the yard. If you decide that the positives outweigh the negatives and keeping these items at the property will attract a young family; consider installing gated areas to separate play areas, ensure playgrounds are free from trip hazards and check there are adequate fall zones and the areas are surfaced with appropriate materials to prevent injury as a result of falls.
Be mindful of balconies, balustrades and windows
If the property you are renting has multiple levels or is not on the ground floor, there are some precautions which can be taken for balconies, stairways, hand rails and windows.
While multi storey homes may only require locks on entry doors and windows in the ground floor, including these on doors and windows which exit on to balconies or open on the second floor can provide extra security and additional safety to prevent falls.
If renting to a family, often landlords will be asked to allow the installation of child proof gates at the top of stairways or to dangerous areas. Being receptive to allow such changes, or even installing these items can go a long way to keep tenants with families happy.
Check the garden for dangerous shrubs, trees and pests
One area easily missed when checking for hazards is the garden. Plants, shrubs and trees can all provide potential dangers to tenants, children and pets.
Regular checks will ensure there are no broken tree branches which could fall and cause damage to the property or to its occupants.
Some plants are potentially poisonous to children or pets that play in the yard. Prior to starting a lease, consider removing such plants or asking a professional to remove them.
Often parents with young families may not have the time to keep they yard well maintained. Including regular yard maintenance and completing regular pest inspections can put your tenants mind at ease and also be a reason to keep them signing their lease for years to come.