As a Baltimore landlord, it is your responsibility to provide safe and healthy living conditions for your tenants.
Under a country-wide law known as the implied warranty of habitability (or as in Baltimore refers to it, “implied warranty of fitness“), landlords are required to maintain a rental property that does that not endanger the life, health, or safety of tenants in any way. This includes, but is not limited it, vermin or rodent infestation, lack of sanitation, lack of heat, lack of running water, or lack of electricity. Landlords must also keep their tenants safe from physical harm that may result from damaged property structures or criminal intruders.
Landlords, along with their property managers, can easily provide safe conditions for all of their tenants by performing safety and maintenance inspections before and after lease terms. It also helps to conduct routine inspections throughout tenant occupancy to help address potential safety or health concerns before they become serious.
Today we will look at some of the major areas of concern that can be easily overlooked if not explicitly written out and inspected regularly. By following the provided checklist, you will be able to provide nothing less than safe properties for your tenants.
Rental Safety Checklist
Interior Safety Check
The following set of interior safety checkpoints will be structural in nature. This is to ensure the physical safety of your tenants at all times.
- Doors. Interior and exterior doors must open and close properly to prevent easy criminal intrusions and possible fire evacuation hazards.
- Lights. Ensure that all lights can easily turn on and off. A delay may signal faulty wiring that could spark a fire.
- Outlets. All outlet panels must be secure and have no exposed wiring. Also, check for any broken or blackened outlets. This is to prevent a fire from starting or possible electrocution.
- Ceilings. Stains, cracks, or sagging sections of ceiling may be a sign of water damage. Not only is this unsightly, but a possibly collapse on a tenant or mold contamination are serious health and safety concerns.
- Walls. Check the bases of all walls for possible vermin or rodent entry into the property. Another thing to note is any water damage that may be coming from the pipes within the walls.
- Floors. Sloping or uneven floors can be an early sign of structural damage or foundation problems. Stains and soft spots in the floor can also mean water damage or rot.
- Fireplace. If your property has a fireplace, it is essential that is be swept clean of any debris inside to ensure proper ventilation when your tenants ignite the fireplace during their tenancy.
Appliance Safety Check
Though most appliances do not post any severe safety issues to your tenants should they break, it is important you check the ones that have the potential to cause real harm.
- Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms. Baltimore has strict laws regarding smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in homes, especially rentals. With the help of the Baltimore City Fire Department’s 311 Smoke Alarm Program, you can receive (and have installed for free!) 10-year lithium tamper-resistant smoke alarms on all levels of your home.
- Washer/Dryer. Buildup of lint and debris in either of these machines can not only damage the machine, but cause a fire to ignite as well. Having a professional clear our the machine and ducts annually can help prevent this buildup from causing any safety hazards.
- Stove/Oven. Ensuring that an electric stove does not have faulty wiring, and a gas stove does not leak gas is best for the health and safety of your tenants. These are fire hazards that can be prevented with a thorough inspection.
- Water Heater. In order to prevent scalding when hot water is in use, check your water heater’s temperature and make sure it is below 120° F.
- Plumbing. Make sure all plumbing throughout the home is working properly to prevent water damage from leaks, mold contamination, and improper drainage of waste water.
Exterior Safety Check
It is just as important you inspect the exterior of your home because your tenants will inevitably spend a significant amount of time walking to and from the home and possibly in the front and backyards.
- Walkways and Stairwells. All railings must be secure and ready for use by your tenants. Walkways must be free of slipping hazards and debris, and should be well lit at night to discourage intruders from lurking in the dark.
- Lights. Every entrance point to your property should be well lit to deter criminal activity and improve visibility for tenants as they enter and exit the property.
- Landscape. Regularly trimming bushes and foliage can help prevent tripping hazards as well as prevent criminals from finding the perfect hideaway. If you have large trees with overgrown roots, make sure they are not damaging your property’s foundation or plumbing systems.
- Windows. All windows should close securely and have a locking mechanism. Sometimes window pins can help prevent windows from opening too wide should the lock be undone.
- Alarm Systems. If your rental property has an alarm system that is in use, inspecting that it works on a regular basis is a good idea. Double check all motion sensors and the call system to authorities so that if an intrusion does occur, the alarm system does its job and protects not only your tenants but your property as well.
- Roof Inspection. One major safety concern can come in the form of roof problems because of potential water damage. Deterioration of insulation, wood, and drywall materials puts your electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems at risk. Not to mention to rodent infestation or mold contamination that can occur as well. Having a licensed professional conduct a roof inspection will give you the best results so you can manage any problem areas right away.
Please not that this checklist is not all-inclusive. There is no way to address every possible scenario that may occur with your specific Baltimore rental property. In addition, not all health hazards are readily visible to even the most experienced landlord.
It is important that all rentals pass the inspection of a licensed home inspector before any tenants begin residency in the home. It can also be helpful to enlist your favorite Baltimore property management team, Bay Management Group, to help you regularly inspect your home so that it maintains the highest safety standards owed to every tenant that leases a property.
With knowledgeable staff on hand to answer all of your questions, and a team of professionals dealing only with property management, you can rest assured your property, and your tenants will always be in good hands. Forget the stress of inspecting your properties! Let Bay Management Group handle it for you while you enjoy the peace of mind that all landlords can only hope for.