Being a Landlord adds Liability
If you are buying a property to be used as a rental, remember that you are assuming substantial liability. It is far more important for you to repair and maintain a rental than your own house. If a tenant gets injured, you could be held liable.
We have performed hundreds of inspections for investors. Some investors look for the cheapest dwelling on which they can slap a “For Rent” sign no matter the condition. Others, who are buying the property for income and long-term investment are more likely to improve the property to maximize the revenue, and attract a better tenant.
If you are the bargain hunter, you are likely looking for places that need some work. Getting a home inspection is a great way to find out what expenses you may incur. But you should pay particular attention to those items that can cause injury. If a tenant gets hurt, they can sue you.
Anti-Tip Bracket on the range
These simple and inexpensive devices keep a range from toppling forward in the event you place a heavy object on the door (think big turkey), or a child decides to stand on the door to get something off the counter. The range could lurch forward spilling hot items which can cause severe burns or worse. Several children have been killed by having the range topple over on them.
Worn window glides
Sliding windows have small rollers or plastic glides which make opening and closing the window effortless. When these glides or rollers wear out, the force required to open and close the window can cause someone to slam the window and break it. Most sliding windows are plate glass which shatters into very sharp pieces and can severely cut someone. Replacement glides are cheap and easy to install. Watch our How-To video to see how easy it is to fix window glides.
As a landlord, you should always provide CO and smoke detectors for your tenants. Since you don’t know how they are operating the gas appliances, you want to provide these basic safety features and provide new batteries every year. See our article about CO detectors, where they need to be installed, and the danger of CO poisoning.
Get furnaces serviced annually, especially older units. Tenants don’t always tell landlords when they fail, and then use alternative means to heat the house. Sometimes they use propane or kerosene heaters, BBQ’s, or numerous electric heaters. These all pose a danger of CO poisoning or fire.
Garage doors and Openers
Have your garage door opener serviced every two years. This is particularly important with those old heavy wood doors. They weigh hundreds of pounds and can easily hurt or kill someone.
Many leases are broken and landlords sued over mold issues. If bathroom vents are present, make sure they are in good working order. Since people don’t always turn them on, consider installing a timer switch which people are more likely to use, or install exhaust vents that have a humidity sensor built into them.
These items should be fixed without hesitation to reduce your liability. Keep documentation of your service records and photographs of your rental taken during your initial walk through with tenants. Acting on the recommendations in the home inspection report, and regular maintenance can help keep you from getting sued.