How to Know if your Rental Meets Safety Standards

Landlords must provide their tenants with a safe rental home. The state of Oklahoma, like most states in the U.S., has its own version of the warranty of habitability.

As a landlord, from a legal and financial perspective, it’s important to familiarize yourself with these provisions to stay compliant. The following are the areas you’ll want to focus on when providing safety for your rental property.

Electrical Work

Poorly maintained electrical components can be a hazard to your tenants. If you’re renting out an old property, you may need to upgrade its wiring to meet the current safety standards in regards to electrical safety standards.

The warranty of habitability requires rentals to have Ground Fault interrupter outlets installed. If your rental property doesn’t have these installed, your tenants may be at risk of fire outbreaks and electrical shocks.

Of course, if you must make any changes to the property's wiring, work with a licensed electrician. They will help identify potential hazards, as well as prevent tripping circuits, among other things.

Plumbing Systems

One of the most common causes of home floods and water damage is a faulty plumbing system. The clogging of toilets, showers, or sinks can have a significant impact on a home. It can expose the house fixtures, flooring, and walls to extensive water damage.

To prevent plumbing issues, make sure you regularly inspect gutters, pipes, and drainage systems. Being a proactive landlord and ensuring that everything is clear of debris.

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Heating and Boiler Systems

Keep an eye on the condition of the boilers. Failing to respond to boiler situations can subject you to a myriad of issues, including a lawsuit. Additionally, a faulty boiler can become a fire risk, endangering the lives of your tenants.

Ideally, have the boiler inspected by a qualified professional every 6 to 12 months. You should also keep them away from highly combustible items. If there is a heating source in the unit like a fireplace, ensure to install a screen to prevent a potential fire outbreak.

Paint Safety

Almost all the fifty U.S states require landlords to provide their tenants with a paint-based disclosure. The disclosure applies to all rental properties built before 1978 as lead is a known health hazard.

Adults who have been exposed to lead paint can suffer from things like fatigue, diminished motor skills, dizziness, headaches, and other more severe conditions. For these reasons, it’s important to ensure that the paint on your property is safe.

Appliance Maintenance

Meeting safety standards also means ensuring that appliances are properly maintained. An appliance that is damaged can overheat, causing a fire. If you have old, inefficient appliances, consider replacing them with new, energy-efficient ones. Also, regularly inspect them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

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To be on the safe side, have a list of life expectancies for every appliance you provide your tenant with. This will help you keep tabs on when to do periodic inspections to ensure they remain in top shape.

Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors

According to CDC, there are thousands of people who visit emergency rooms and hundreds who die in the U.S every year due to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

Because it’s odorless and colorless, carbon monoxide isn’t easy to detect. And that’s where carbon monoxide detectors come in handy to detect its concentration in the air. If a certain threshold is reached, the alarm will be triggered. Smoke detectors work using the same concept as carbon monoxide detectors.

Regularly inspecting these detectors is key to ensuring they are functioning as they should. Ensure that they have working batteries and run tests now and again.

Walls, Floorings, and Ceilings

The type of flooring you use and how you maintain it can have an impact on tenant safety. Slippery surfaces can be a safety risk, so waterproofing such surfaces may be necessary. You may also want to seek professional foundation services if you notice the floor isn’t level.

As for the walls, be on the lookout for vertical cracks, as those may point to structural issues. Also, peeling wallpaper, a stained wall, or a warped wall may indicate signs of water damage. Have a professional inspect the premises as soon as possible if you spot any of these issues.

Finally, the ceilings should be 3 meters high. You want to use material on your ceilings with low thermal conductivity to safeguard your tenants against extreme heat.

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Pest Infestation

Pest infestation is one of the top concerns for tenants. Every landlord must ensure they rent out properties that are free from the presence of bugs, rodents, and termites. The following are some telltale signs of pest damage in your rental home:

  • Holes or sagging floors
  • Grease marks and tracks
  • Holes and gnaw marks
  • Odd smells and sounds
  • Evidence of nesting
  • Pest droppings
  • Dead bugs indoors
  • Active pests

If you come across any of these signs, an exterminator can help. And even after a pest infestation has stopped, make sure to ramp up your inspection efforts to minimize the chances of a recurrence.

Bottom Line

Renting out a property that meets the federal and state safety standards is key to running a profitable rental business. Failure to meet these standards can give your tenants certain legal options. In the state of Oklahoma, tenants can sue you, or exercise their right to repair the issue and then deduct the costs from future rent payments.

As a landlord, you want to keep tenants happy as this will ensure that they rent long-term. There are, however, many laws and responsibilities that you have to keep track of in order to achieve this goal, so consider working with a professional property management company.

If you need an expert to manage your rental property, Draper Realty can help. We’re a full-service property management company that can help you oversee the day-to-day tasks at your property reliably and professionally. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help!

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